And while the BSCFA has been knocking on every legal door for a bigger audience on the Bagasse issue, today we have a breakthrough to report as the Belize Sugar Industries Limited responded to the matter through a press release. It’s a step closer to an actual interview with the executives, but it’s a response that won’t sit too well with the BSCFA.
The release starts off by stating that BSCFA, through the airwaves, has painted BSI as unfair at the same time claiming that their cause is morally right. In efforts of bringing certain points to the attention of the public, the release states that the cane purchased and delivered to the sugar mill includes; water, sugar, fiber (bagasse), mud etc and that the cane becomes BSI’s property, responsibility and risk.
This is confirmed by the long standing historical position that BSI alone (1) undertook and financed the cost of the storage and disposal of bagasse, (2) BSI was responsible for and had to manage the environmental challenges of the bagasse and (3) BSI faced and dealt with the risk of claims and liability for the storage and disposal of bagasse both in respect of possible statutory liability and regulation and private claims.
The release states that for 30 years prior to 2010 BSI dealt with the Bagasse and its disposal at a substantial cost, amounting to approximately BZ$20 million without any contribution from the BSCFA. To add to this, BSI planned, designed, financed (through equity and loans), the co-generation plant BELCOGEN at a capital investment of BZ130 Million dollars, again without any investment from BSCFA.
With those focal points, the release went on to state that “It is not reasonable or just for the BSCFA to expect a return where it has made no investment, but that the disposal of the bagasse through the co-generation plant benefits the overall sugar processing operations and all sugar cane farmers.”
And while the release delved into many aspects where investments were made, it states that besides the Mill and Power Plant investments made, majority holder, ASR Group, intends to contribute to provide extension services and technical and infrastructural support to the industry which will benefit cane farmers directly.
The release ends with the hope that all stakeholders will move forward in a constructive manner to realize the industry’s true potential. In this regard, BSI states they have sent a letter to BSCFA suggesting a date for a meeting to advance discussions on a new agreement and to discuss the technical support by SIRDI. According to BSI, a new agreement can be finalized (with such changes as are mutually agreed) and signed separate from the bagasse issue. We’ll have BSCFA’s reaction to the release in tomorrow’s newscast.
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