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People’s United Party’s Northern Caucus wants to know why no commercial sugar agreement

Posted: Monday, January 23, 2023. 12:30 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The vexing question of why the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA) and Belize Sugar Industries Limited/American Sugar Refining (BSI/ASR) have been unable to reach acceptable terms on a commercial agreement has kept the Northern sugar community up many nights in the past few years.

Now the People’s United Party’s Northern Caucus is proposing a Commission of Inquiry to look into the problem and, among other things, propose a formal regulatory framework and increase efficiency in the industry and trust between the sides, while also providing for dispute resolution.

Officially, the two sides have extended negotiations for another year under an interim agreement after mediation by attorney Julie-Ann Ellis-Bradley starting in November failed for unknown reasons.

BSI/ASR has balked at “transferring value” to farmers by paying for bagasse usage to create electricity and absorbing more production costs, while the farmers insist they are being cheated compared to other regional industries and represent more than half the annual cane output.

There is no word on whether this resolution, agreed at a weekend meeting, will be taken up by the wider party and ultimately the Government, which has limited its involvement in respect of private enterprise.

Both Prime Minister John Briceno and Agriculture Minister Jose Mai’s constituencies in Orange Walk District are part of the Caucus.

 

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