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Cabinet takes charge of stalemate between BSCFA and BSI/ASR: ministerial sub-committee will determine way forward

cane trucks in Tower Hill

Posted: Tuesday, March 7, 2023. 7:18 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Stopping short of direct intervention, the Cabinet has announced the formation of a ministerial sub-committee to meet with the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA) and Belize Sugar Industries Limited/American Sugar Refining (BSI/ASR) to “chart a way forward for both sides to resolve their differences. The sub-committee will be chaired by Kareem Musa, whose urgent remit is to guide discussions between both parties so that an enduring commercial agreement can be concluded.

After a presentation from the BSCFA in January, representatives from BSI/ASR had the opportunity to present to Cabinet the company’s stance. BSCFA members protested outside the Sir Edney Cain Building during the meeting.

The two sides set themselves a year to finish negotiations over a new commercial agreement after efforts at mediation failed just before the start of the sugar crop last year. There has been little progress reported amid recriminations from both sides.

Cabinet says it “is resolute that it will not nationalize the sugar industry and will instead try to get the parties on a collaborative path for the better interest of the industry.” It reiterates the importance of sugar as the “lifeblood of the northern economy” and its dual role as source of foreign exchange and “the blood, sweat and tears of the individual cane farmers, whose sacrifice and persistence must be justly rewarded,” contraposed with “the vital role of the miller and the marketer of Belize’s sugar, as well as the conditions necessary for strategic foreign direct investments to be fostered and to grow.”

The Executive promises to further engage with both sides, facilitate fair compromises and support the peaceful resolution of differences by whatever means available.

 

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