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GOB Speaks on BSI/ASR’s Impasse with the BSCFA

Moving now from the coke industry to the sugar sector:::: Uncertainty remains in the sugar industry as the impasse between the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association and BSI/ASR remains unsettled. The two sides remain at loggerheads because of an unresolved commercial agreement. However, in its meeting on Tuesday, Prime Minister John Briceno and his Cabinet have contemplated the issue. Because the agreement expires in January and the industry often has various delays, Cabinet says that the 2021-22 harvest should start this month as planned, whether a new agreement is inked or not. In a letter from the Prime Minister last week it was indicated that Cabinet does not seem confident that the association and BSI/ASR can come to an agreement before the crop starts. Cabinet also said that downtime should also be considered, given sugar cane quality, and unpredictable weather. They also propose that the two sides should work under the terms of the current agreement and extend those terms for another six months. The 2021-2022 cane production estimate is one million three hundred and fifty-five thousand-plus metric tons of sugar cane, an increase of more than one hundred and fifty-seven thousand metric tons over last year’s production. The sugar industry is the main socio-economic livelihood of northern Belize, is a strong foreign exchange earner, and contributes to 15 percent of direct and indirect employment.