Landmark Ruling Shakes Belize Sugar Industry: Sugar Act Provisions Declared Unconstitutional
The High Court of Belize has delivered a landmark ruling that could possibly reshape Belize’s sugar industry. Last year, BSI and one of its employees, Russell Navarro, went to court to challenge several components of the Sugar Act. One of their points of contention was the requirement for cane farmers to be a part of an association to deliver cane to the mill. In this regard, Justice Patricia Farnese agreed and ruled that the requirement is indeed unconstitutional. BSI also argued that the requirement to pay annual rates and an export tax to the Sugar Industry Control Board (SICB) violated their right to property. Justice Farnese ruled in their favor and stated that it is also unlawful and unconstitutional. The other points brought by BSI and Navarro had to do with the imposition of the start and end of the grinding season as well as the geographical restrictions on sugar purchases by BSI, and the regulation related to the production by the Sugar Cane Production Committee (SCPC). Former Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte weighed in on the forty-three-page ruling and explained what implications it may have on the industry.
The ruling comes after the government recently introduced the Sugar Industry (License to Import/Export Sugar) Regulations 2023, which is also being challenged in the courts.