The Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association now counts with 17 branches and 3088 members from the last count. While the association is trying to move ahead after 42% of its membership decided to join other associations, there is still a dark cloud looming over the group. As previously mentioned, the association is currently facing a suspension or even decertification from Fair Trade after its directors complied with the mandate of can farmers and disbursed four million dollars in Fair Trade funds among them.
Directors were totally against the disbursement of the funds and one person that came under fire for allegedly not wanting to sign the checks is no other than Financial Controller for the BSCFA, Javier Keme. To date, even though he signed the checks, Keme still believes disbursing the funds was a huge mistake, one that should have never been committed and the Committee of Management should have never permitted.
Javier Keme- Financial Controller BSCFA
“The politicians and all the nation started to say that I must not sign the cheques, but that was one of the main reason I think mention it before that I am a farmer so I know their needs and what is my responsibility is that in doing so I followed the procedures and lie I said before there are three criteria’s that we have to abide by and the rules of Fair Trade to disburse of the money that is one it has to be through a massive participation of the farmers, secondly it has to be democratic and thirdly it has to be accountable so the third one is the part that I feel we will have trouble when our audit comes because each cane farmer by himself he has to provide evidence on how he used that money so that is how bothers me it is not from the centralized system, it is not from the office, it is the individual farmer because now he has taken the responsibly to use the funds in his way so he has to provide the evidence to justify to the auditor when that comes, on my side as the authorized person to disburse that money I have to get a request from the committee of management first to set clear that it was approved at the general assembly the way it way approved and thirdly because the issue of not being done in a legal way per say, why because on a especial general meeting you have to deal with only the issue why is the meeting called for and the meeting was called for the approval for the agreement so if that was done not following our own rules well the organization will face justification to the auditors on that regards so on my behalf I ask for the committee of management to give me an authorization taking off all the responsibility and liabilities on any possible consequences of this disbursement until I get that I had the two branches cheques printed the day before but I didn’t disburse it because I needed that document and until they gave me that document then I start disbursing the money advancing that it was not correct to do it at the committee of management should have stood up and stop and prevent that to happen and they didn’t stop it.”
Another association member that has come under fire is Chairman of the BSCFA Orange Walk Branch Alfredo Ortega and recently another accusation has been added to the already long list hurled at him. Last week the former Chief Executive Officer of the BSCFA David Madrid came out swinging at Ortega accusing him of misappropriation of funds from the Association. Now, those are some serious aspersions and for Ortega, well, let’s just say it did not sit well with him when the media asked for his response to those allegations.
Alfredo Ortega– Chairman BSCFA, Orange Walk Branch
“It’s a pity that a person in the name of Mr Madrid being calling his name a professional and he vehemently said that he was the CEO of the BSCFA coming out with those type of allegations because if there was anybody to give assistance to Mr Madrid was my person and why is it that I was heavily inclined for him to get a job in the Association because I wanted changes in the Association and I wanted an Accountant or a CEO a person that would be neutral in the grounds, that will be having no type of connection or like to give back to somebody because of the position that he has and that is why I out my shoulder for him to become the Accountant and then afterwards he was moved to the CEO position because what I thought at that time is that we need changes to be done in the Association and he needed to manage the organizations the business like organization rather than a milky cow and that is why that position was given to him and I told him and I told everybody let him work the way he should so that we can transform this organization so the position that he has brought up against me or whatever words he is saying about me I think he will swallow them in quite a time because I will deal with him in that regard.”
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