Earlier you heard the exchange in the House about Banco Atlantida’s proposal to buy majority shares in the Belize Sugar Industries that is cash strapped and unable to meet loan commitments. That deal is still on the table but there is another matter that is causing frustration to consumers. That’s because this sugar cane crop ended earlier than expected, causing a three thousand ton shortfall on the production target. Still the thirteen thousand, five hundred and thirty-three tons of sugar that were produced exceeds the average local demand. But there is no sugar in some stores and consumers are complaining daily about a shortage, which admittedly is caused by illegal exports across the borders to Mexico and Guatemala. According to B.S.I. marketing officer, Damian Gough, seven thousand, three hundred and twenty-four tons of sugar has been sold so far, leaving six thousand one hundred and forty tons to last until the start of the next sugar cane crop. Gough maintains that it should be more than enough… IF they can get the contraband situation under control. He told us via phone today that certain measures are being taken to keep the sugar on this side of the border.
Via phone: Damian Gough, Marketing Officer, B.S.I.
“We will, of course need to continue monitoring the situation very closely. We will of course need to continue with the control measures that we have in place whereby we have specific quotas issued to distributors and wholesalers and business people and so on. It certainly doesn’t mean that there will be a free for all because we’ve produced the amount of sugar that the market normally needs, but there will still need to be a degree of vigilance particularly from stakeholders and even some of the enforcement authorities to try to do our best to curb the amount of sugar that goes across the border.”
“It also says here that B.S.I. is considering directly delivering to major supermarkets.”
Via phone: Damian Gough
“That’s an option we’re considering because we know particularly in Belize City, the biggest area of complaint seems to be that you can’t get sugar on the super market shelves. We are exploring the possibilities, we’ve been discussing it here of perhaps engaging some of the bigger supermarkets directly to try to see how we can get a little bit more sugar to them.”
“Are there any other control measures that are being put in place?”
Via phone: Damian Gough
“For now, no. I believe at the next meeting of the committee, there will be an attempt to try to get the Customs people more involved. But for now, those are the measures that are being implemented. We have produced a little more, we will continue to maintain the controls that we have in place with the quota systems and the committee that has been established will be working vigilantly to try to monitor the distribution system that’s in place to make sure that if its necessary for redistribution to occur, that the consumers start getting the sugar relatively easier.”
And while the sugar at B.S.I. are expected to be sufficient, Gough says they are considering starting the next crop season early if the weather permits.