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The Sugar Industry Amendment Bill was the main debate in today’s fiery meeting in the House of Representatives and from the onset it triggered much scrutiny from the members of the opposition. But before divulging into that segment of the news, we start off with a debut appearance of newly elected and appointed Minister of State to the National Assembly, Dr. Omar Figueroa. And while the dust has settled since his victory over Richard Harrison in Cayo North, he took his opening remarks to thank his supporters and campaign members for their victory. Also gracing the chambers with his presence was disgraced Minister and former house member, Elvin Penner who sat adjacent to the pews of his party’s parliamentarians.

But back to the substance of the matter, the Sugar Industry Amendments to the Bill was presented and it was met with much objection from the Opposition, People’s United Party. The Bill presented today was to enact legislation for freedom of associations, a move that was to be acted upon four years ago. And in just one day, the Government moved to have the bill pass all its stages and for it be amended so as to jump start the sugar cane crop season. Here are the highlights of todays ‘historic’ motion.

Honourable Gaspar Vega – Deputy Prime Minister of Belize

“I move that bill be taken through all its stages forthwith.”

Honourable Francis Fonseca – Leader of the Opposition PUP

“Mr Speaker we object to this in its strongest possible terms, how can this government come here today to this honourable house and place before us a Bill of such importance affecting a vital national industry, the sugar industry and place that bill on our table at 10am when the meeting is scheduled to start and expect us to engage in a debate on this Bill, man this is absolutely outrageous and disgraceful.”

Screen_Shot_2015-01-19_at_8.54.33_PMHonourable Dean Barrow – Prime Minister of Belize

“We have to pass this Bill today because we need to get the crop under way. A crop that has been delayed Mr Speaker, in consequence of the machinations, bad mind and sabotage of a number of people including leader of the opposition.”

Honourable Gaspar Vega – Deputy Prime Minister of Belize

“This decision to form separate Association was most definitely encourage by the previous court ruling within the citrus industry which established that the citrus industry act violated the constitutional rights of citrus farmers who wanted on their own free will to be part of an Association of their choosing.”

Honourable Francis Fonseca – Leader of the Opposition PUP

“We condemn Mr Speaker, this deliberate decision by this UDP government to abandoned the caneros, to abandon the national interest, it is this UDP Prime minister and his government Mr Speaker that has turn their backs on our cane farmers and are actively Mr Speaker to divide and tear apart the BSCFA.  What is really behind this deal, why is the Prime Minister, why is he so nice and courteous to McClan and so rude and disparaging and offensive and insulting towards one of our very own caneros.”

Honourable John Briceno - OW Central Area Representative

“I don’t think anybody would attempt to stop the crop from starting actually I was hearing the members from BSI on a talk show this morning and they were saying that they are ready to start the crop and now that the Belize Cane Farmers Association at the general assembly have rescinded the previous motion and passed a new motion asking that they sign so that they could start the crop so I don’t see why we have to hurry do this in one day Mr speaker, we can start the crop and have proper consultation and discussions with this Bill so that then we can make a meaningful contribution to what is being presented right here Mr Speaker. When we were in government this last term Mr Speaker it is we under our Prime Minister the right honourable said Musa, we negotiated with the European Union 240 million dollars that they are using right now to try to help the sugar industry Mr Speaker, all the roads that they are paving and all the works that they are doing for the sugar industry it is the work of the People’s United Party government.


Honourable Florencio Marin Jr. – Corozal South East Area Representative

“It reminds me of when Mr Price, the father of the nation, years ago when he started on this road to Independence, he never gave up, he started the peaceful constructive revolution and here today the People’s United Party will start the new peaceful constructive revolution to be the eventual ownership of this industry.”

Honourable Jose Abelardo Mai – Orange Walk South Area Representative

“What I ought to have been moments of celebration and triumph as we embrace technology what should been cause of jubilant moments in the history of the sugar industry has been reduced to a shared by the international deception and the equivocation of the government’s handling of the sugar industry crisis, if this government have chosen to act with sincerity to support our cane farmers in their just cause to improve their economic situation, this amendment of the sugar industry act would never in the eyes of the entire world appear to be one that appeases and clearly accommodated ASR/BSI’s interest.”

Honorable Mike Espat -

“It is very important to have legislation to include our farmers on that committee to decide whether or not  they will accept the prices thrown at them, the ownership of the 2% let give them 1% if we can’t but let them have that avenue so that they can have that door open to them, to allow more farmers to plant more cane is also an area and what we saw in the banana industry where one group decide this it guys this is the quota and nobody can go outside this quota but today you see a total difference in that industry where there is expansion in that industry today and again the vision of the People’s United Party to privatize that industry, is was the People’s United Party that privatize the banana industry and that is why today it is a success story and more and more we have to help our farmers to be the owners of the assets of this country it belongs to them they deserve it.”

It was announced to the assembly that this was the last House Meeting sitting until after Municipal elections in March when Prime Minister Dean Barrow will be presenting his budget speech.

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