BSI says it’s tired of political interference in negotiations
While the BSCFA is hoping GOB can intervene, the mill says it is tired of political interferences. Over the past three years, the BSCFA has called on the government several times to intervene in their negotiations with the mill. Four Cabinet Ministers are members of the group, which has led many to believe GOB is playing both roles, as player and referee. BSI’s Director of Finance Sean Chavarria says that the company hopes that this year’s High Court ruling, which stated that several provisions of the Sugar Act were unconstitutional, will lessen GOB’s pressure on the mill.
Sean Chavaria, BSI’s Director of Finance: “Mixed messages has been in place for many years. I’ve been n the industry going on nineteen years and we know that it’s a heavily politicized industry. When you have one party in government and there are oppositions they both try to maximize the political mileage out of these situations to get their support. At the end of the day you have five thousand farmers that’s five thousand votes, BSI as a company doesn’t vote but it does invest and I think ASR has come to Belize we have demonstrated that we have invested significantly not only to improve the performance of the mill but also to expand value added production to modernize our raw sugar logistics and molasses operations which are benefiting farmers currently through higher sugar prices. And so ASR has lived up to its commitment but what we’re seeing is that there is a sense of fatigue that is taking place that we seem to be stuck in this groundhog day scenario where we give these same interviews the same time of the year, we’re talking to the same people every single year around this time and we just think it’s time to move on. There is really no reason why we shouldn’t have a long term agreement with the BSCFA in place. Everything in a sense is a line for us to have to be able to start smoothly to take advantage of these good prices we recently launched AgroPro that’s our attempt to try to work directly with farmers to improve their productivity so that they can see higher returns. I mean we’re living up to our commitments as a company and I think it’s really time that others do their part to try to move this industry forward. As I said we’re really one of the few industries that are doing well at this stage and I think the government does recognize that and perhaps you know rather than putting pressure on us I think there should be pressure going the other way to try to encourage the associations to sign a longer term agreement. We’ve been always the brunt of these pressure to sign one year agreements, to do things we don’t want to do and we think it’s time that as an industry we move forward.”