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Sugar Cane Farmers Association urge appeal of court decision on regulations and appointment of independent marketing body for industry

Posted: Thursday, March 21, 2024. 2:17 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association has called on the Government to intervene to save the Sugar Export/Import Regulations which were recently struck down in court as unconstitutional.

The regulations were in part intended to remedy BSCFA’s concerns over Fairtrade premium payments. At a press conference on Tuesday in Orange Walk Town, Javier Keme, the Chairman of BSCFA’s Finance Committee, said the Government of Belize has the authority to appeal the ruling: “One option is to appeal. The statement he [the Prime Minister] made to that question is that it is going to cost Belizeans thousands of dollars, taxpayers’ money. That is his response. When in other areas he has used taxpayers’ money recklessly. The second option is to accept the ruling of this judge, but as a legislator, change it and amend it and bring back the section that will not affect the constitutional right of such an entity.”

Separately, the BSCFA is now demanding that an independent entity be established to market Belize’s sugar. They further demanded that legislation be included that speaks to compensation for sugarcane farmers for their produce and that amendments be made to clarify that the sugar industry is not for BSI as Keme detailed: “… the sugar industry Act needs to be amended in a way to clarify that this sugar industry is not for BSI. It is not for ASR. It has two owners and two stakeholders, and that has to be put into law in the Sugar Industry Act. We are fifty percent owners of the industry because we have the production as producers. They are millers and that is wrong when you say that BSI is a private industry. That is wrong. They might be a private company, but we are two stakeholders in one industry and that needs to be reflected in the changes that the Sugar Industry Act needs. We need that the aspects of the payment of the cane to producers [are to] be put in law. You say it is going to be difficult, maybe the commission of inquiry will show enough evidence, enough information for you to do that. But if still your government is reluctant to act in that regard, there is an alternative for it. And it has also been ventilated in the past that there needs to be a mechanism to resolve disputes like the negotiations for a new commercial agreement.”

 

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