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Screen_Shot_2014-02-17_at_9.36.06_PMThe citrus industry has been sinking into a series of problems but ultimately the circumstances surrounding the industry have worsened. The dead lock between two of the shareholders, the Citrus Growers Association which owns 51 percent of the shares and Banks Holdings Limited, which holds 46.59% shares, have led the industry into crisis. Over the last weeks, CPBL has been unable to make payments to growers for their deliveries and there was a possibility that the factory would have stopped receiving fruit, in other words the factory would shut down. However, given the industry’s financial strife, government stepped in and has a new proposal to keep the industry afloat.


Dean Barrow – Prime Minister of Belize

“The proposal is that FCIB will advance within the limits of their overall facility with DPBL, the immediate working capital funds necessary to get us out of the pickle that we are in in terms of the inability of the factory to pay for fruits. Ultimately, Social Security Board, initially the Government of Belize is proposing to buy out the FCIB facility, buy out the loan that FCIB has with CPBL, the ideas is that SSB will afterwards take that loan, government will un sale it to SSB since in fact SSB is in the business of making loans while the government of Belize is not or only unusually so and that ought to say then SSB stepping permanently stepping into the shoes of FCIB.”

The Social Security Board then becomes a shareholder if the proposal is accepted by way of the transfer of a portion of the fifty one percent of the shareholding held by the CGA.


Dean Barrow – Prime Minister of Belize

“CGA is indebted to SSB in the amount of about 9.1 million dollars, while CGA has no doubt in making herculean efforts to service this depth which I believe it is comprise of two loans, at this junction and in order to make a new equation, the new dispensation that we are proposing work, CGA would liquidate the depth to SSB by way of this share swap, in other words SSB would take 9.1 million dollars’ worth of CGA’s shareholding, this would be with a covenant that would allow CGA to buy back the shares from SSB at such time as the dividends and the earning of CGA from the rest of the shareholding in CPBL will permit.”

The transfer then of the shareholding to SSB will give SSB a ten percent stake in CPBL. The shareholdings then would be as follows - CGA would have 41%, BHL 46.59%, SSB 10% and other shareholder 2.41%.


According to the Prime Minister, all parties involved have further agreed that after the transfer of shares there will be a reconfiguration of the board of CPBL. The board would comprise of seven members, two appointed by the CGA, two by Banks Holdings Limited, one by SSB for its ten percent shareholdings, one by Heritage Bank and one by the government for the period of when GOB holds the FCIB loan. When it is unsold to SSB, then the proposal is for SSB to appoint two members on the board.


The PM adds that through the proposal the hope is for CPBL to keep operational and payments be made for deliveries of fruit and secondly that the reconfigured board, with the three new directors, hold a balance between CGA and Bank Holding Limited. As the PM put it the board quote “ought to be able to usher in an era of peaceful co-existence at a minimum.”


Given their financial track record, the head table was asked whether the debt swap is the better option.


Dough Singh – Chairman, SSB

“Now risk is risk at an industry like this has to be supported one way or the other because it requires the finances necessary for it to expand, for it to grow, we are working on those circumstances now CGA I think is fairly solid, CGA own currently 51% of a company that has a net value of over 92 million dollars the fact that is not liquid it does not mean it does not have enough to pay at some point in time.”


Dean Barrow – Prime Minister of Belize

“I believe in the viability of this industry going forward right now as I understand it the prices are excellent we have been overtaken by this cussed inability to get along between the two principal shareholder of CPBL plus all the problems that arise from citrus screening arise from farmers either not being desirous of or not having the ability to expand to rehabilitate but this is a hundred year old industry that has stood the test of time, if government is not going to believe in the industry, any government then something is wrong with that government.”


The Prime Minister further reiterated that no money is being given to CGA. The money on the table is by way of the FCIB facility that government and ultimately the SSB will take over. The details to the framework of the proposal will be further addressed in a meeting scheduled in Belmopan tomorrow morning at the Cabinet Room. The meeting will be chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega as the PM flew out today with his wife.

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