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Cabinet Decision: Commission of Inquiry on the Sugar Industry

Mar 9, 2023

Cabinet Decision: Commission of Inquiry on the Sugar Industry

Cabinet has made a decision, essentially acquiescing to the demand put forward by cañeros in the north, that a commission of inquiry be convened into the sugar industry. That decision comes hard on the heels of a demonstration in Belmopan on Tuesday. The Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association took to Independence Hill as cabinet met inside the Sir Edney Cain Building. During that meeting, the Briceño administration heard presentations from A.S.R./B.S.I. on the status of the commercial agreement that is yet to be signed between both parties. In the wake of that sit-down, G.O.B. said that a ministerial sub-committee was set up to meet with B.S.I. and B.S.C.F.A. to chart a way forward for both sides to resolve their differences. Tonight, we can confirm, via a cabinet release that a Commission of Inquiry will be conducted to examine the modernization of the sugar industry and improve its viability. News Five spoke with Minister of Agriculture Jose Abelardo Mai earlier today and he says that the inquiry is not to investigate B.S.I.

Jose Abelardo Mai

Jose Abelardo Mai, Minister of Agriculture

“We all listened to the presentation intensely. In my view, it leaves more questions than answers especially when it comes to the figures because information is at our fingertips now, so you can do enough research and you can make comparisons. But that is why I am even more convinced that the only way to solve this problem it is a holistic commission of inquiry that will begin from the field and end all the way up to the market destination. It cannot be an investigation to investigate A.S.R./B.S.I. – that is not the objective of the commission of inquiry. It is to analyse and identify areas along the entire chain so that we can have a modern sugar industry act, we can have updated and agreements that reflect today’s marketing and today’s cost. Fifty years ago, the situation was a whole lot different. Market trends have changed, market conditions have changed, protocols to export have changed, so you cannot use fifty years ago model for today. It has to be upgraded, it has to be modernised. It has to take into consideration many new aspects out there, many new things that are out there. And so I believe, and I am convinced that the best thing to do is to have this holistic approach.”