As mentioned in the story the BSCFA will send a letter to Prime Minister Dean Barrow on Monday informing him of the resolutions made by cane farmers. This includes the ultimatum given to the Sugar Industry Control Board, SICB, to have BSI/ASR sign an interim agreement for the crop to commence and the intervention on of an independent expert when it comes to the bagasse negotiations. Both requests have already been denied by BSI and when it comes to the Prime Minister, he has clearly stated that the law does not permit him to take a position since it is a commercial arrangement and both the miller and the producer have to meet halfway. Bottom line is GOB cannot force BSI/ASR to sign an interim agreement. Based on this fact BSCFA is of the sentiment that the P.M has already taken sides.
Oscar Alonso- CEO, BSCFA
“In a way he has taken a position and that position seems to be in support of BSI/ASR, the thing is that he should weight the issues and the consequences in terms of the point relating to the cane farmers, we are saying that we are prepared to start the crop and that we will be happy with an interim agreement to begin the crop but ASR/BSI is saying no they don’t want they want a full agreement and I don’t think even the Prime Minister would be happy for us to proceed with a negotiation process that would conclude a hasty agreement that would be harmful to the cane farmers, I think have the cane farmers interest at heart and this is why we try to let them be aware of our decision was today and we hope that he supports the process, we can still have a crop, there is still be an agreement, we can still sort out our differences during the course of the crop because we cannot just sing for sign just to suit multi nationals desire for certain conditions fort their investments to succeed in Belize.”
But whatever be the case the fact remains that the BSCFA is expecting to hear from the SICB at the end of five working days, meaning on the 21st of November, or else they will execute their second plan of action which is to take industrial action.
Javier Keme- BSCFA, Chairman Committee of Finance
“The best thing is to get BSI to agree to accept the interim agreement to start our crop, we are committed as we say the Association, the membership, the general assembly that we are ready to start as we mentioned in our press conference and this also prove that we as a unified body, the rumors that we or that there are groups of having the intention that of signing that agreement offered by BSI as an option now shoes that that is not so, we are still a unified organization heading for signing the interim agreement to start a new crop.”
On Friday last BSI/ASR via a press release informed cane farmers that the consultation period for the contract presented to them has been extended to tomorrow November eighteenth. Based on the concerns received cane farmers will be presented a new agreement on the 21st of November if there is a need to. The company though has also indicated that there are certain sections of the agreement that are non-negotiable. The first being the 51 cents payment per ton of bagasse and two that the agreement clearly specifies that once the cane is purchased it belongs to the company.
But the BSCFA believes that all is lost for BSI/ASR as after Saturday’s meeting few if any, are the cane farmers that will sign the seven year contract offered to them by the company.
Alfredo Ortega- Chairman BSCFA, O/W Branch
“I think that today has proved that the agreement that BSI has put forward has come to an end, today. The farmers have already passed a motion that they are prepared to start a crop with an interim agreement so that means that what BSI has put forward has come to a death today, and we should look forward into that interim agreement and continue negotiation for the benefit on behalf of the farmers.”
BSI/ASR has given cane farmers up until the 28th of November to sign the agreement. At that time if the factory receives a commitment of minimum six thousand tons cane per day, then the crop will commence. We understand that to date no cane farmer has signed the contract.
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