Prime Minister Dean Barrow met today with representatives of the BSI ASR group to present the latest proposal of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association. It was the hope of all parties that the meeting would bring the negotiations closer to an amicable solution. Details of what was agreed upon, if any agreement or any progress for that matter was made, are not clear. What we can say is that the meeting concluded less than ninety minutes after it begun but none of the representatives of BSI/ASR or even the Prime Minister himself gave the media a comment of the proceedings. All parties simply exited his Belize City office in their vehicles and drove off. After making attempts at getting comment from ASR Public Relations Representative Mac McLachlan, who was in the meeting, he responded via text saying and we quote, “we have had a very constructive TALK With the P.M and in faith of advancing the process we can’t comment further,” end of quote. So none of the parties in today’s meeting are saying what the discussions led to. What we know is that after continuous negotiations, the BSCFA has twice made amendments to their demands. In their last meeting with the PM the BSCFA indicated to the Prime Minister that they accepted the seven year agreement on the condition that BSI present a strategic development plan within the first three years. If this does not transpire then they reserve the right to cancel. In the matter of the cane ownership, BSCFA agreed to give BSI ownership once they can renegotiate for a percentage of future by-products which was not readily accepted by BSI which said that BSCFA needs to make investments if they are to request revenue shares in future by-products. As for the bagasse payments, BSCFA has said it is ready to accept the fifty-one cent payment for at least three years on the condition that BSI present their accounts to verify profits. As we mentioned before, the outcome of the meeting today between the Prime Minister and the company representatives is unclear. What we do know is that the Prime Minister is meeting tomorrow morning with representatives of the BSCFA to present BSI’s latest position in the matters on the table.
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