Belize’s sugar industry has had its fair share of scrutiny over the years. Carlos Itza, the Chairman of the Sugar Cane Production Committee and a Board Member on the Sugar Industry Control Board is accusing the Director of Sugar Industry Research Development Institute (SIRDI), Marcus Osorio and the Chairman of SICB, Gabriel Martinez, of mismanagement within the organizations. Yesterday, Itza spoke at length with Love News.
Carlos Itza: “Currently I am here because I have seen several instances of mismanagement at the Sugar industry Control board and this is precisely what I wanted to share. Recently I have received several indications that the Chairman of the Sugar Industry Control Board wants to release me and the reason for this I believe has been because I have been very vocal in trying to expose all the mismanagement that is taking place within the Sugar Industry Control board. First of all the Sugar Industry Control Board is formed of many stakeholders. We have only had had one official meeting over the three years so that is the first irregularity that we have. The Sugar industry Control Board is supposed to meet at least four times per year. The Sugar Industry Control Board also does not have audits over the past two years that I am there but I also believe previous years have not been audited. The Sugar Act explicitly says that the there needs to be an annual audit of the Sugar Industry Control Board accounts. Additionally what I have found is that we have junior staff that are signing cheques at the Sugar Industry Control Board. At the first instance I did not have any problem but when they started to see me being vocal about the mismanagement that is taking place then I found out the reasons behind why junior staff are signing. For example, I am the Chairman of the ACPC and I should have had authority over that account of the ACPC but now currently it’s being signed by the Secretary and the Finance officer; two junior officers. That basically violates the current final procedure of the ACPC which establishes that it is the Chairman and a board member that is supposed to be signing those checks. In the case of SIRDI we have; it was supposed to have a board. Over the past three years there has been no board, no board meeting, no board decision and money is still being spent under SIRDI. In terms of funds, we see a lot of funds being spent without any results, we also see that there is a lot of expenditures that is happening that sometimes they are not authorized by the proper persons. I’ll give you and example: when I question why is it that junior staff are signing checks I found that their response was that the Chairman of the SICB has been conducting advanced payments to himself so those are some instances I think that violates the finical procedure. I also requested that there be proper budgets. This year we almost had to force that there be a production of budget because as sitting representative; as board member of the SICB I should have clear indication as to what is the current budget of the entire institution. Those things were produced and no one is following those budgets. The only institution that has been providing annual expenditure reports, annual reports and also conducting a proper reporting of what is taking place with the money is the SCPC; not even SIRDI nor the Sugar Industry control board has provided those type of reporting.”
We caught up with Osorio today however he refused to comment on the allegations brought up by Itza. He would only say Itza’s contract was not
renewed. Love News also tried contacting Martinez, but was unable to reach him.