Xtra House importer Jack Charles has up to the last week of this month to re-export the 75 tons of Guayanese Rice he brought into the country. If he does not do so by then, BAHA will act on the forfeiture order and possibly destroy the rice if it is not deemed healthy for consumption. Yesterday, Prime Minister Dean Barrow who is also the Minister of Finance, commented on the matter.
“I’ve signaled that I am perfectly prepared to give him the forfeiture override so that he can get the rice out. It’s not a fight between Belize and Guyana. The Deputy Prime Minister and the CEO in the Ministry of Agriculture are in Guyana now. They are going to be talking to their counterparts over there. But this is not a…. we don’t want to make too much of it. This is a as of now a problem with Mr. Charles and his not having gone through the proper processes. I’m not going to in fact not concede that clearly, this government has an interest in protecting the local rice farmers and in protecting the local rice industry. But we are not at the stage yet where anybody can elevate it to the level of a country to country conflict. I’m sure that as soon as the Deputy and Jose Alpuche returned, we will be able to update you on those bilateral talks go. Even if no progress is produce there, there are mechanisms under the treaty for us to make certain applications in terms of our need to protect the local rice industry. But as I said, that’s a little premature. For now, I’d like to keep it at the level where it is a question of Mr. Charles having to go through the right procedure if he is to have any chance of being able to import rice.”
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture Gasper Vega and his CEO Jose Alpuche return to the country on Friday.