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Written by Jamil Matar   
Thursday, 14 June 2012 00:00

As I mentioned last week, and further detailed in BSI’s official press release, the investment by American Sugar Refinery is principally comprised of a direct capital injection of between USD to million in the Sugar Company, which should retire all of BSI’s debts, including the BZ million owed to the Government of Belize. There will also be an additional investment of BZ million aimed at increasing cane supply and milling capacity. It will furthermore make available for distribution to shareholders some BZ .4 million in unpaid dividends since 2006, of which BZ .2 million will go directly to BEH beneficiaries.

I also shared with you that at an extraordinary general meeting held May 29 at the Tower Hill Factory, 99.3% of beneficiaries voted to increase the share capital of the Company and to offer these additional shares to ASR. It is expected that an agreement will be closed within a month’s time, which will trigger payment of the first tranche of 50% of the outstanding dividends to BSI’s shareholders, with the remaining two portions payable within 9 months of each other.

In the field sector, several programs will be set in motion to increase cane yield per acre in the first instance, and later on to increase planting and cultivation of new cane. This will immediately profit farmers and millers alike with the subsequent increase in sugar production.

Recall I said in my earlier article that the loans which BSI has with ING and FCIB were called in 2010, and BSI was given until March 31, (which was later extended to September 30, 2012) to set in place alternative financing arrangements. This deadline expires in a little over three months from today, this fourteenth day of June, 2012. If the Company doesn’t meet the banks’ request for payment, the sugar industry will certainly fail; this is our stark reality.

With that background, I will now update you of recent events.  My fellow employees and I are aware that there presently exist some former employees, a couple officials of the BSCFA, and a few politicians who, by their recent actions and words, seem to care less if the industry collapses, regardless the consequences to our country. There are also the negative comments from our backyard media, who act as if they have a cent in this dollar and endlessly try to pass inept opinions as expert counsel. For the most part, though, employees tend to ignore these detractors and continue to carry out the business of producing sugar and maintaining this important industry alive.

On Tuesday night, however, I think the stakes went up a notch with the statement from the Hon. Florencio Marin at the PUP press conference. In introducing this House Member, the TV newscaster stated that “the PUP is squarely opposed to the proposed foreign investment in BSI”.  Marin is then quoted as saying that BSI is being “handed back to its former colonial owners”. With this, the PUP has now fully bared the Party’s position on the issue of the sugar industry, and that position is to bring it down.

I won’t comment on Marin’s blunder, and really this gentleman is an elected Area Representative and chairman of the PUP’s northern caucus, who should be much more familiar with the history of BSI. I will let it go without comment for now, but should he persist in making inaccurate and misleading statements, I will have to respond, using the facts, which were so painfully detailed in the BSI press release, so that he can get it right the next time around.

But although I passed at remarking on the statements from the Member from Corozal Southeast, I still have a question: “Do we continue to nurse false pride and allow the industry to collapse, or do we accept the proposed investment and expand this industry to its maximum potential? I respectfully leave that for him reflect on.