Screen_Shot_2013-12-11_at_7.57.25_PMThis morning, the Prime Minister concluded a second, and wrap-up, meeting with the principals of American Sugar Refining (ASR) on the sugar industry impasse between Belize Sugar Industry and the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association over the issue of payment to farmers for bagasse. And while the Prime Minister describes this morning’s meeting as successful, Vice Chairman of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association, Fred Ortega says they are looking forward to finalizing negotiations with the Belize Sugar industries next week. Here are reactions from PM Barrow and Ortega after the meeting in interviews courtesy our colleagues at Channel 7.


FRED ORTEGA – VICE CHAIR, BSCFA


“Well, in principle it looks very good what he have presented to us what ASR sent to him in their letter, that they compromised for the payment to the cane farmers and based on what he has mentioned to us we will be calling a meeting with our famers on Sunday to report to them what we have garnered from the Prime Minister on this meeting.”


Reporter


“Was the Quantum discussed?”


FRED ORTEGA – VICE CHAIR, BSCFA

 

“No, no as yet that would be for discussion for us and BSI.”


Reporter


“Do you expect that the farmers will accept the principle that you should all be paid for bagasse?”


FRED ORTEGA – VICE CHAIR, BSCFA


“Well, that is what we will be reporting to them on Sunday and I cannot say at this point in time if they will accept or not that will depend on the meeting we will be holding with them on Sunday.”


Reporter


“The Prime Minister is saying now the 27th of December; will we be able to start on that date without major loss?”

 

FRED ORTEGA – VICE CHAIR, BSCFA


“Well, we cannot commit at this point in time all we will depend from what we will be getting on Sunday from the cane farmers and also if there will be a continuation of the meeting what results from us with BSI in regards to the first meeting that we have assigned commitment that this negotiations will follow-up for a time period, we can say that if the 15th of January comes and we are unable to start then we wills e huge problems on fields that can be created to the industry.”


Reporter


“So when will a hard, final and fast decision that yes we will have a season, will it be made on Sunday or will it be made on Thursday after your first meeting with BSI/ASR?”


FRED ORTEGA – VICE CHAIR, BSCFA


“Well, it will likely to be on both, on Sunday it will be what we will be getting from the cane farmers and from there after it will depend on our first meeting with BSI, what we are looking forward is the sign that there will be payment for bagasse and what will take the longer period of time is that it will be for the quantum for the payment of baggase.”


DEAN BARROW – PM


“There has been agreement in principle with the position that I brought back from the ASR meeting naturally the directors will now convene an emergency general meeting on Sunday and their acceptance will need to be ratified by the general meeting but at this level there is an acceptance of the position where therefore preparing to start eh crop as soon as maybe possible and we are preparing to start the negotiations between the BSCFA and BSI which negotiations will proceed on the basis that payment for the bagasse is due but that of course quantum must be agreed.”


Reporter


“So how hard was it to get ASR to come over to that position since they are in principle oppose to it and I imagine that is a position throughout they corporate empire.”


DEAN BARROW – PM


“I will tell you that they said that the only reason they agreed was because of my intervention, and that of the government of Belize and leave at that, now on a serious note they did say that, up to this morning they were insistent on their position an expressed all sorts of fairs as to the future should they agree with what government was requiring, they thought it would set a bad precedent but we were able to talk the whole thing through and in the end obviously they were convince that this is the only way to go.”


Reporter


“So will you now all proceed to work on the cane roads and deliveries begin on Monday?”


DEAN BARROW – PM


“No, no, no, no, the chemist for the BSCFA concurred with what ASR told me this morning I will put to you the two positions; ASR said deliveries could not start before the 27th of December and that will depend on the weather Mr. Briceno the chemist says in his view they can start before the first week in January because of the weather the sucrose content is extremely low so that if they deliver now what they would get in terms of payment would be also extremely low also on both sides there is an agreement that you are not going to start before the 27th December.”


Tomorrow, the PM is scheduled to report in detail on the meeting with American Sugar Refining and seek agreement for, among other things, a start date for the 2013 – 2014 sugar crop season. We have more on this on tomorrow’s newscast.

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