Green Tropics Faces Penalties For Canal
Green Tropics, the Spanish Investment Group that got into hot water after it cut a massive canal through a wildlife sanctuary, is now being advised on how it can right its wrong.
The Company sent out a release earlier this week stating that it quote, "unreservedly apologizes to the people of Belize for the construction of the final drain section through the jaguar corridor to the Belize River."
Coming after the fact, it might not count for much, but that's a lot for a multinational company to say.
The company says that it was acting on bad advice from its environmental consultants who told them that since an environmental impact assessment had already been submitted - but not approved - they could start work before the rainy season.
But that advice was very wrong - and the Department of the Environment today issued a release stressing that all no project should be embarked upon until and unless an environmental compliance plan is signed.
And for those who don't, the law carries a serious penalty, a fine of between fifty thousand and a hundred thousand dollars.
And that's what Green Tropics is now facing.
Yesterday, the Prime Minister told the media the government is working with Green Tropics to advise them on the way forward. Here's what he had to say:..
Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"Of course we must now work with the investor to see how he can remedy what has gone wrong and I have heard a complaint that he is saying that he don't know who to talk to. Yesterday in Cabinet the minister with responsibility for the environment undertook to try to lead the investor through whatever process is required to try, and as I out it, try to remedy what has gone wrong and I would leave it at that."
The PUP Area Representative for Cayo South has a different view. While Green Tropics clearly broke the law - and admitted to doing so, on Tuesday, Espat told the media that Government is the one criminalizing an investor who wants to start up an eighteen thousand acre sugar plantation which will create hundreds of jobs:..
Here are Espat's comments:..
Hon. Julius Espat
"A clear example of an investor in the agro-productive sector is Green Tropics Ltd. a Spanish company with businesses in Guatemala, Mexico, Europe and part of Africa. They are proposing to develop a sugar-cane plantation with approximately 17,000 acres complimented by a sugar mill with a grinding capacity of 8,000 tons. This would generate employment of approximately 700 workers at different skill levels, jobs that are desperately needed in the Cayo District. Land in the surrounding areas would increase in value. The project would enable land owners and farmers in the area to diversify into sugar-cane production. There would be an increase in new businesses in the area."
"I am sure the news fueled by the governments' reaction only scares legitimate investors away where they quickly criminalize Belize community at every opportunity- the business community. These guys are serious people; do you think they really come to Belize to break the law and to be environmental terrorists?"
And while the politicians jostle back and forth, the one dealing with the situation on the ground is the Department of the Environment.
Officials at the DOE met with Green Tropics on Tuesday and advised them that because of their action, the public hearing planned for the end of this month and the NEAC meeting planned for the third July would both have to be postponed.
And that's because a damage assessment will now have to be done - which will take three weeks and include the input of experts from different fields.
And, after that, the company is expected to have to pay a hefty fine. As we mentioned, the minimum is fifty thousand dollars.