Santander will not be allowed to sell their sugar on the local market. That is the decision of the Export Processing Zone Committee. As has been reported, Santander had requested a waiver for the company to sell five thousand tons of direct consumption sugar and two thousand tons of molasses on the domestic market. The committee met and after reviewing the data concluded that there is no shortage of sugar in the domestic market, hence there is no need for a waiver to be given at this time. Area Representative for Orange Walk North Jose Mai, himself a cane farmer, has spoken out on the issue. Mai said while the news is good for the cane farmers in the north, it is not a time for rejoicing.
Jose Mai, Area Representative, Orange Walk South: “I’m pleased to hear that the EPZ committee will not grant the waiver but it’s not that I’m rejoicing for Santander that is not the case I think Santander has invested millions of dollars in the sugar industry. So while we are pleased for the farmers in the north we certainly are concerned about Santander and their ability to market their sugar. So it is something that we need to address and address very carefully.”
At the meeting, the Export Processing Zone Committee also looked at the company’s violations of its contract. As a result, the company will be fined the maximum allowed under the EPZ Act. Mai said that while the company should be held accountable it is a situation that needs to be handled with care.
Jose Mai, Area Representative, Orange Walk South: “We live in a country of laws, of rules and regulations and there is a penalty for anybody breaking the law. If I go into somebody’s house and steal I have to face the law and the law will then decide what is my fine. So they are being imposed a fine, I do not know what the fine is but I would say that we do not want to impose an additional cost on investors like Santander. I think we have stopped them from, they are not receiving the waiver I should say if they are to be penalized I don’t know if the right thing is to impose or what is the maximum, what is the maximum in a dollar value that is what worries me. But I don’t know if you want to add to a company that is already having problems marketing their product. So while I say that I am happy for the farmers in the north I’m not rejoicing for Santander for them not being given the waiver because they are investors, they have some farmers that may want to join them and produce sugar cane so you have to be very careful. It’s not that we say ‘oh we need to fine them millions of dollars or hundreds of thousands of dollars.” They too have to find a way to survive.”
The company has also been notified of the need to abide by the laws and, if there is continued violation, they run the risk of having its EPZ status revoked. The Directorate General for Foreign Trade and the Ministry will continue to assist Santander in expanding export markets for its products.