And given the impasse, the miller says that investing in Belize isn’t even a thought at the moment. The power play between the BSCFA and BSI/ASR is rooted in money. BSI/ASR says it does not want to lose out what they’ve invested in and BSCFA says it wants what it deserves. And as they say, there are two sides to every story and on the issue of investments, each party had its interpretation as expressed by SICB Chairman Marcos Osorio and BSI/ASR’s Mac McLachlan.
Malcolm “Mac” McLachan, VP, International Relations, ASR/BSI: “At a time like this the thought of investing any more money in Belize is the furthest thing from our minds. I mean we would not consider further investments until we have a much better relationship with the association and we’ve now invested over three hundred million Belize dollars into the mill and into the industry in Belize. If we hadn’t done that I don’t think we’d be sitting here discussing the sugar industry today.”
Marcos Osorio, Chairman, Sugar Industry Control Board: “They have been changing their figure as time lapses. They have said ‘We have invested over a hundred million.’ then the last figure they gave all of a sudden says ‘Oh we have invested over three hundred million dollars.’ Providing electricity ? Yes at what cost ? What the farmers benefit when the raw material being used which is the fuel to fuel the BELCOGEN and the farmers are getting cents per ton cane ? We have Santander locally that is paying three dollars per ton cane to their cane farmers for bagasse. Our farmers are getting thirty odd cents, forty cents per ton cane. So is there a fair share to the farmer from the bagasse that comes with their sugarcane ? ASR keeps saying we need a long term agreement for guarantee of our investments. I want to say and I will repeat I have said it in our local media what more of a guarantee the sixty thousand or seventy thousand acres of cane in the fields established, what more guarantee you want ? The production is there. What has happened over the years is that the mill has not been able to mill all the production of the farmers so what more guarantee you want ? Farmers have a multimillion dollar investment in the fields.”