Government of Belize Supports Agreement Between BSCFA and ASR/BSI

Saturday, January 3rd, 2015

Belmopan. Since helping to forge, on December 8th, the historic agreement between the BSCFA and ASR/BSI, Government has been actively trying to assist in resolving the difficulties that have so far prevented the signing of that agreement. Government hopes that the second BSCFA General Assembly vote scheduled for this Sunday will, like the first vote, ratify the agreement, mandate its signing, and allow now for the crop to start.Sugar Cane 3

Meantime, though, Government continues to be concerned at the wrong-headedness of the views and positions being propagated by the NTUCB, joined now by the Rod of Correction (ROC). These organizations seem determined to prevent a crop, derail the sugar industry and cause the destruction of the livelihoods of the very farmers they say they support.

In urging the BSCFA not to sign the hard-won agreement with ASR/BSI, NTUCB/ROC says that the Sugar Industry Control Board (SICB) can force the BSI factory to receive cane against its will, and to mill and market the cane without the dispute being resolved. In support of this outrageous stance, NTUCB/ROC completely misrepresents the legal position and ignores the practical fact that successful operation of the sugar industry in Belize requires the free consent and voluntary participation of both the grower and the miller of the cane.Sugar cane trucks head for sugar factory. Belize

The Government of Belize makes clear that it would be unthinkable in a democracy based on the rule of law, respect for private property and the rights of investors, for any arm of the state to seek to use compulsion against any party to a private-sector commercial dispute. And, not surprisingly, the Sugar Industry Act neither contemplates nor allows any such thing. Indeed, the scheme of the legislation mandates multi-stakeholder consultation before the SICB can fix a start date for the annual sugar crop; and does not, on a proper reading, allow the SICB to act unilaterally. That is why there is no provision in the Act for enforcement of any declaration made by the SICB regarding the crop, and no sanction or punishment prescribed for disregard or breach of such declaration.

As Chair of the SICB, then, GOB states for the avoidance of doubt that it will uphold the proper mandate of the Sugar Industry Act, and will not countenance any resort to illegal unilateralism or strong-arm tactics.

ASR/BSI having conceded fully the last two demands of the BSCFA, Government urges the General Membership to give the go ahead on Sunday for the agreement to be signed, the crop to start, money to be made, mortgages paid and the economy of the North saved.

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