Following the Prime Minister’s Press conference yesterday’s on the issue of the Sugar Industry, much was left to be desired by cane farmers and the concerned entities of the North. Prime Minister Dean Barrow threw out a bombshell when he stated that he supports the larger cane groups if they want to go their own way and sign independently with BSI/ASR. When the issue is magnified, the announcement could lead to the breakup of the BSCFA which has served the north for over 50 years. And whilst there seems to be no amicable resolution in sight, today we caught up with Mayor Kevin Bernard while on his campaign trail and asked his view of the current happenings in the Sugar Industry.
Kevin Benard – Mayor, OWT
“I am of the view that the cane farmers has to benefit, BSI/ASR has to benefit and the government has a stake in this industry also has to play a key player in this thing but listening to the Prime Minister yesterday and indeed in his words he basically told the farmers go ahead and do what you need to do, those how want to individually sign go ahead and individually sign, I think it is a bad move on behalf of the Prime Minister, and this is not about politics, this is about government we are talking, bad move from the government of Belize in the case of the Prime Minister making such statement is as if you are telling the cane farmers just like when they got into office it was brought to him that so many people was let go and he said it is collateral damage for me he is telling the cane farmers those that will lose out you are all collateral damage, he is looking at the bigger picture in terms of how he could save BSI/ASR and not lose the image out there that he is protecting the businessman instead of the farmers, they may oppose that view but I am of that view that it is exactly what is happening, I am saying that the Prime Minister should have sat down, I think the Prime Minister owe to the cane farmers for him to come and sit down and talk to farmers instead of just talking to few directors let the farmers express how they feel about where the industry should go because they are the biggest stakeholders in this thing so when leaders of our country get up and speak like this and I am talking leaders because we need to look across the spectrum, if a PUP government come into place we need a Prime Minister that will be able to ensure that the cane farmers are looked at carefully and that the industry benefits all stakeholders, that is my position when it comes to this issue so I am very disappointed on what I heard yesterday and would want to encourage the farmers, think well on what you are doing, I don’t agree also in the fact that the Association wanted to sue the 4 million dollars as they said because I think they need to look beyond the now and look into the future because it is something crucial as well you can’t get the Association decertified because you just want to use the money now to benefit what, what it would benefit, yes know they are struggling, so I think that the Prime Minister should have looked at all of these factors, sit down with the farmers, sit down with BSI and ASR but sit down with them jointly don’t be sitting down with small rooms and having individual discussions and them what seems to me yesterday was that his back was in the wall and so he made this decision and to say you know to hell what is happening in the north I need to save my skin as Prime Minister and so I have to ride with the bigger wigs and leave the farmers to be trampled that is my personal view as I see this issue.”
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