BSI/ASR Disputes Sugar Regulation
And while that is the argument presented by Minister of Agriculture, Abelardo Mai, the BSI/ASR says the regulation is ridiculous at best. According to the company’s Finance Officer, Shawn Chavarria, they don’t believe that it has anything to do with controlling exports. Additionally, he says it will prove more burdensome for the industry with the required paperwork and new processes.
Shawn Chavarria, Finance Officer, BSI/ASR: “It adds a significant layer of burden. It’s anti business. As I said earlier we would expect that sugar being one of the largest agricultural exports and a key income earner for the country you would want to make the process of exporting sugar easier not more burdensome and in fact the opposite is happening. We don’t see this for bananas, we don’t see this for livestock, we don’t see it for I understand only citrus fruit you need to apply for an export permit but certainly not a license to do so and so in our view it really seems to be one that is targeted and it doesn’t send a right signal from an investment standpoint. Certainly we don’t see the need because there are two elements to it. You firstly need to apply for a license to be an exporter that’s one step and then for every shipment you have you then have to apply for a permit. From what we understand under the Supplies Control Act there is a handful of products that requires the company to apply for an export permit those products are sugar is one of them, you have certain fisheries products, certain hardwood, I understand some beans and I believe citrus fruit it’s limited to those products. As we have tried to point out in our view even that is not necessary because there is no food security issue with sugar. There is enough sugar in the country of Belize, only 10% of what we produce is consumed locally and therefore there doesn’t need to be any restrictions or the need to have to apply for export permits but they have said that that needs to continue, we need to provide contracts now to satisfy the need to get those permits and then in addition to that we have to be licensed to be an exporter of sugar which is a new requirement and there are all these stipulations that are now in place for us to be approved and even there are some clauses in there in the legislation where any fault can be found with us that would give the minister power to remove the license and put us in a situation where we’re not able to export our product and who knows what that could lead to.”
Chavarria went on to tell the media this afternoon that BSI/ASR has been extremely accountable and transparent. He added that
Shawn Chavarria, Finance Officer, BSI/ASR: “Every month and we had the SICB meeting we demonstrated that. Every month BSI sends a report of all the shipments of exports that it did and it sends it to all the associations, it sends it to the sugar industry control board and that’s the same report that we also share with the Statistical Institute of Belize and the Central Bank so they have all that information. In addition to that as part of our commercial agreement we have to provide the associations with sales contracts, that’s part of the terms and conditions of that commercial agreement. So the associations get the contracts that we have for the sale of sugar and molasses. In addition to that when we have to do an export there are a number of documentation that we need to put in place to facilitate that export. So customs entries have to include the name of the customer, the value of the product, where it’s going, the quantity, the vessel, a packing list, we have to get CARICOM export documents if it’s going to CARICOM. If it’s going to Europe we have to get the Euro One forms, we have to get Central Bank approval, we have to get a permit from the Supplies Control Unit and before the Supplies Control Unit gives you that permit you have to tell them who you’re selling the product to, what’s the price of the product, what’s the quantity, the type of the product and where it’s going. So in terms of transparency all that information is in there. So as we said it’s not about that. It’s trying to find a way to compel BSI to pay the Fair Trade premium which all the signals that were being sent was that that’s where this was headed to find a way to force BSI to make these Fair Trade premium payments but we’ve tried to point out that at the end of the day BSI is not the one that pays it it’s the customer that markets and sells it and they pay those funds directly to the association so the legislation in a sense will not achieve the objective that it’s seeking because at the end of the day we don’t pay the premiums.”