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Jun 1, 2023

Minister of Agriculture Explains Controversial Preconditions in Latest Sugar Legislation

The newly implemented Belize Sugar Industry Regulations 2023 are the latest decisions by government causing controversy across the sugar belt. As we have reported, the regulations require that importers and exporters of sugar apply to the Sugar Industry Control Board annually for a license. There are, however, preconditions to acquiring approval for such license. The Belize Sugar Industries Limited (B.S.I.) has said that the preconditions contained within the legislation are an overreach. Tonight, the Corozal Sugarcane Producers Association and the Progressive Sugarcane Producers Association are saying that the legislation is in favor of one association, the Belize Sugarcane Farmers Association. We will tell you more about the joint virtual press conference those two associations held this afternoon. But first, we sat down with Jose Abelardo Mai, the Minister of Agriculture, earlier this week to have a conversation on these regulations.


Jose Abelardo Mai

Jose Abelardo Mai, Minister of Agriculture

“It says things like this. It says, the licensee shall collect all proceeds, premiums like Fairtrade premiums or other benefits from the total volume of certified sugar, or any derivative or byproduct sold to the buyers and distribute any premium or other benefits on a quarterly basis to certified producers to which premiums are due based on the respective volume of sugarcane delivered to the licensee of each certified producer. All this is saying, you must distribute the premiums and distribute them fairly. If you ask them if you distribute it they say yes, but not to the BSCFA. So, this regulation will now address that matter.”


Paul Lopez

“So, who collects on this regulation, who does the premium go to?”


Jose Abelardo Mai

“The license in this case is B.S.I., ASR who exports, the exporter, not only them; there are Santander and three other exporters. So, if they sell their sugar at premium prices, they have to show how much they sold, the prices and they have prove that they did distribute the premiums as is agreed upon. While the impasse was going on with the commercial agreement they had agreed with the farmers and to us in cabinet that they were prepare to offer us audit rights, cause the problem is we don’t know the cost of what you are doing, the real cost. So, there is this sense of doubt. They said to avoid doubt and to get the ball rolling we are going to give you audit right. Well, this is an audit right.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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