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Opposition United Democratic Party weighs in on sugar dispute; calls for ‘good faith negotiations’ and use of independent expert

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Posted: Friday, December 17, 2021. 9:29 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The United Democratic Party has recommended the use of an independent expert to mediate the increasingly acrimonious dispute between Belize Sugar Industries Ltd/American Sugar Refining (BSI/ASR) and the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA) over their commercial agreement.

Warning that there is still a possibility of delay of the new crop season beyond the projected start date of Monday, December 20, and subsequent deleterious effects on the livelihoods of up to 5,000 farmers and their families, the UDP calls on all involved “to immediately re-engage in good faith and resolve to hammer out an agreement that is fair to all parties, and to do so as promptly as possible for the survival of the industry, for the benefit of those who directly depend on it, and for the overall good of the economy and the nation.”

And it agrees that Government should lead the way, though takes a dig about “high-handedness” on the part of Belmopan concerning the associations’ internal affairs – an obvious reference to the recently shelved amendment to the Sugar Industry Act that granted the Minister of Agriculture more powers of intervention after any dispute is mediated by the Sugar Industry Control Board (SICB).

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