Screen_Shot_2014-01-03_at_6.47.31_PMYesterday we told you about a possibility of progress in the horizon for the cane farmers and the Belize Sugar Industries impasse. Well, tonight in trying to tie up all loose ends, Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association is requesting from the Prime Minister to act as mediator so that all parties involved draft up a memorandum of agreement indicating BSI’s commitment regarding payment of the bagasse and negotiation of quantum of payment. Vice Chair, Alfredo Ortega told us today that in view of the mistrust by cane farmers in BSI, the MOU would confirm payment and eliminate any parties back tracking on their word.


Alfredo Ortega– Vice Chair, BSCFA


"The lawyer is working on it. We sent it yesterday to the Prime Minister indicating to him that we would want to have a meeting with him where we can sign an MOU between BSCFA, BSI and the Government of Belize and the lawyer is working on that presently. We are looking forward in something that transpired in 2010 when BSI was in financial problems when we were called to sign an MOU together, so that they can get the 10 million dollars from the Government. We are seeking something favorable in that same regard."


Reporter


"How hopeful are you guys that the Prime Minister will support or endorse this MOU that you have in the works to prepare?"


Alfredo Ortega– Vice Chair, BSCFA


"When we met with the Prime Minister in the two different occasions, he said that whenever we are unable to reach to a dialogue with BSI that he will be ready to jump into the picture and to have something clear where we can both agree upon. What we are looking for is something that really demonstrates that yes there would be a payment for bagasse. The thing with them is that they are coming with only discussions; coming around and beating around the bush. We want something that is frank and that is clear that demonstrate that yes this will happen."


Reporter


"How reasonable is it to expect that the Prime Minister will endorse that if BSI has already said look, the cane farmers are pushing this issue too far. We can't commit this into writing because we give up our right to negotiate on this matter?"


Alfredo Ortega– Vice Chair, BSCFA


"Look, when we were called in 2010 to go and be part of the round table to negotiate so that BSI can get the 10 million dollars that they were asking the government as a relief on their situation that they had, they didn't come with all these sorts of things. We were there and we negotiated in good faith and we were able to sign along with them so that they can be able to get that help. What we are looking for is that the Prime Minister is the Prime Minister of the nation, he is the Prime Minister of Belize and what we asking from him is that he should be taking care of us the cane farmers as any other Belizean in the country. We are not asking for anything out of the government pocket. What we are asking is something that is being a benefit to BSI and we are asking a share out of that because they are using our bagasse."


While it is a meticulous move by the part of the Association, Ortega says that they are not asking the Government for financial assistance but solely to act as mediator and stand firm with the Association in a way forward. So, while there is no set date on a follow up meeting with the representative from BSI/ASR, in its press release, BSI stands firm on their position that the agreement to negotiate will not prejudice either BSI’s or the BSCFA’s respective legal positions. A cane farmers meeting is tentatively scheduled for January 12th.

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