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  • Speaker Of The House Signs MOU With FOPREL And SICA

    Friday, 07 September 2018 02:44
  • New International Flight Headed To Belize

    Friday, 07 September 2018 02:46
  • 224 Farmers Graduate From Farmers Field School

    Friday, 07 September 2018 03:09

Tonight there is no shying away from the fact that the Sugar Industry is in crisis. The economy of the north is stagnant as a date for the commencement of the 2014/2015 crop is yet to be set. It is a situation that has captured the attention of many including non-governmental organizations and now the People’s United Party.


Today, the Party’s Northern Caucus, via a press release, spoke extensively on the current stalemate and expressed huge concern on the state of affairs that the sugar industry finds itself in.


In the release the Northern Caucus calls on the Sugar Industry Control Board (SICB) to fulfill its obligations under the Sugar Act and declare the crop open by 14th January, 2015 since the party is convinced that they have all the power to do so.


Screen_Shot_2015-01-07_at_8.27.46_PMJose Abelardo Mai- Director of Communication Northern Caucus


“We are entirely convince and we have been saying this a long time ago in the house or representatives we are saying that the SICB has to do its job, I have said it in the past more than one time that, the SICB has held one or two meetings in one year, they are dysfunctional and we have the chamber collecting large sums of money, they have high cost I am not saying everything under the SICB is bad, SIRDI is doing an excellent job but we need to get the SICB to do what it is supposed to do and all what we are asking is clear in the law, they can set the date.”

Carmelita Perez – Reporter


“What are your sentiments on the order of Mandamus that should be placed in the court by Mrs. Audrey Matura Sheppard?”


Jose Abelardo Mai- Director of Communication Northern Caucus


“I don’t even think that it should have reached to that, I think that the Prime Minister in his wisdom and good judgment should have said enough of this nonsense we need to start the crop and we need to start it with an interim agreement, I don’t think we even had to go to that, why are we going through all these legal battles that are costly and time consuming we are wasting our time but if it takes that to start the crop then it has to be done.”


According to Director of Communications for the Northern Caucus, Jose Abelardo Mai, the P.U.P supports cane farmer’s decision to reject the proposed commercial agreement.


Jose Abelardo Mai- Director of Communication Northern Caucus


“The Peoples United Party has always taken the position that the sugar industry should benefit all stakeholders equitably, the cane farmers and the miller, we have always held that position and we maintained that position but the Northern Caucus now believed that time has passed, it is time for the crop to begin so we are calling the government, on the SICB to fix the date for the crop to open and to fix it immediately, we can wait no longer. After careful consideration we have met with both parties, we have met a number of times with the people of ASR, with cane farmers to analyze the situation how we can weigh, this is not a political matter, this is a serious matter that has to do with the livelihood of more than 5000 cane farmers and more than 40,000 people that benefit from indirectly so we have analyzed the situation and we have realized and we are convinced that the agreements are not in the best interest of the cane farmers and hence we applaud the cane farmers for rejecting the proposal but we have to commence and we are saying we must commence with an interim agreement we must similar to last year it has been this way for the past three years why we can’t go one more year, everybody is losing, BSI is losing, the business community is locked down everything is at stand still because we can’t begin the crop.”


As is the agreement does not benefit cane farmers, says Mai who is also in the cane business.


Jose Abelardo Mai- Director of Communication Northern Caucus


“The seven year term we believe is too long, let us stick to three years, secondly the ownership of sugar cane, how can I ask you or tell you that I want to be part of your marketing committee if I sign over the rights of the sugar cane to you, sugar is the product that comes out of the sugar cane so if I have given you my sugar cane then I have no right to ask you for the price or to be on the marketing committee of the sugar so that is critical signing over the right of the sugar cane, if you want to own my cane then it is simple, we are saying if you pay us 90% of the crop upon reaching the scale then you can own my sugar cane of course this is something that we don’t realize one of the largest cost of producing sugar cane is the cost of financing, 80% of cane farmers owe the commercial banks, millions are paid to the commercial banks in interest if we don’t have the need to borrow money from the bank large amounts we could use that money to invest directly to the cane fields hence you would lowered your cost of production, have your inputs on time and become more competitive isn’t that we are talking about that we need to be more competitive so you want to own the sugar cane then farmers are saying pay us the 90% where I can buy my fertilizer and ten to my field on time and I can get more yield per acre.”


But how do both stakeholders reach an agreement when it seems that all is loss? According to Mai, that is where the international expert comes in.


Jose Abelardo Mai- Director of Communication Northern Caucus


“Let us get an independent expert what is wrong with that this is the way that things are done around the world is a standard if two parties fail to reach to an agreement then it is just the right thing to get arbitration that is the way to go why is BSI running away from that let us end this crisis.”


Carmelita Perez – Reporter


“We know that is one of the recommendations that you are making or that the caucus is making when it comes to an independent expert and you are also asking thirdly GOB to pass a legislation allowing the BSCFA to also be a member of the marketing committee?”


Jose Abelardo Mai- Director of Communication Northern Caucus


“Again we are saying if I relinquish the ownership of sugar cane then who am I to go to say to BSI I want to be on the marketing committee, I relinquish my ownership so we are saying if there are provisions in the law that could say that the farmers should be or a marketing committee be formed and that farmers be the main stakeholders be a part of that committee, we are not saying that BSI is deceiving us but we are saying we need to know how our sugar is being sold out there, if the sugar is mine then we need to know that or if I sign over the rights of the sugar cane to you at least give me the opportunity to be on that marketing committee to know how you are selling my sugar.”

 

In the release the Northern Caucus, in an effort to advance the negotiations makes five recommendations. One: That the SICB fix a date immediately to start the crop with an interim agreement similar to last year's.


Two: That an independent expert be allowed to look at both formulas proposed by BSI and the BSCFA for reasonable and just payment of the bagasse. Three: That GOB should pass legislation allowing the BSCFA to be a member of the Sugar Marketing Committee that negotiates the sale of all sugar and other byproducts. Four: That the 2% or more shareholdings of BSI owned by GOB should be transferred to the BSCFA which would allow the farmers to be a member of the board of directors of BSI.


And five: That GOB must immediately commence the repairing, upgrading and expansion of all sugar roads to allow for efficient harvesting and transportation of the sugar cane.

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