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Aug 9, 2023

Corozal North Area Rep Encourages Further Modernization of Sugar Act

Last night, we told you about the major ruling coming out of the High Court in a legal challenge brought against the Government of Belize regarding the Sugar Industry Act. The decision represents a significant shift in the way the industry is operated. To put things into further perspective, of the seven features of the act that Belize Sugar Industries Limited challenged only three were ruled in their favor. The first of the three speaks to the unconstitutionality of a portion of the act that requires B.S.I. to contribute to financing the operations of Sugar Industry Control Board.  The second addresses the unconstitutionality of a provision within the act that requires cane farmers to belong to an association in order to be registered. Hugo Patt, the Area Representative for Corozal North, who is also a sugarcane farmer, gave his views on the latter.


On the phone: Hugo Patt, Area Representative, Corozal North

“In 2016, that whole section of the Sugar Act was struck out, that section had to do with you becoming a member of at the time the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association in order for you to be able to deliver cane to BSI. The practical aspect of it is that Paul wants to deliver cane to BSI, Paul needs to first become a registered cane farmer, but in order for you to do, you will have to quote on quote belong to an association to deliver cane to BSI. So, the practicality of implementing that aspect that was struck out from the court has to do with the freedom of association, it is something that needs to be dealt with at the level of the Sugarcane Production Committee and the same system that BSI runs at the time that you are delivering your cane. I think that is where that aspect has to be changed. I think there are a number of other things that needs to be addressed as well; the Sugar Act of 2003 speaks to the fact that cane needs to be produced in the two districts, Corozal and Orange Walk. We have cane now being produced in the Belize District. So I think if we are going to speak about the act, at this point in time it would be good enough to look at what needs to be amended in the act.”


News Five understands that at least for the last seven years the industry has accepted in practice a sugarcane farmer is not required to be a member of an association to be registered. The High Court’s ruling will now see that reflected in the act. But, reports are that as it stands, the industry is yet to establish a mechanism to allow sugarcane farmers to register independent of an association.

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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