Delay in payment to growers
While the sugar industry is up and running, there is trouble in the citrus industry tonight after a delay of payment to growers by the Citrus Products of Belize Limited. The payment is only a week late at this point, but there is concern over the future, since CPBL is in somewhat of a cash flow crunch because it cannot access funds held in commercial banks. Those banks are holding onto two and a half million U.S. because the Board has been unable to agree on the appointment of a new Auditor, which is a breach of the company’s banking covenant. In truth, the situation right now seems to be a symptom of a long time contentious relationship between the C.G.A. and Banks Holding Limited. Depending on whom you ask…the matter is as simple as dissent on the Board of Directors, or as critical as a possible breakdown of the industry. It is serious enough that the C.G.A. today issued a release calling for an emergency growers meeting to decide on a way forward. CGA C.E.O. Henry Anderson says that growers will not allow anybody to ride roughshod over them.
Henry Anderson, C.E.O., Citrus Growers Association
“Since January when the factory reopened, the growers have been delivery fruit and there have been delays in payment for fruit; it is working out like a one week (back) lag. So Friday after the CGA growers were calling a meeting, CGA got a payment for the previous week and the payment that was due for the fruit that went in last week hasn’t come yet. There is no indication definitively when that will come. And for the fruits going in this week, similarly there is no indication when that may come. Obviously growers aren’t getting paid and it is creating a big bottle-neck funnel because they need to mobilize for those who just started to ship since the factory reopened after Christmas. Also when you have to pay your labor, you can’t work people and then at the end of the week tell them that I can’t pay you because I haven’t gotten paid. And when it come to people who need to do their HLD control measures, if you are not getting paid, they also have other creditors, other bankers and stuff like that that needs to get paid. So it creates a domino effect up the line and down the line. So it is a major issue. The reason for the non-payment or the slow payment if you will, it comes down to CPBL saying it doesn’t have cash, receivables that tend to lag, and also right now the group of companies are not able to draw down their finances for facilities they have. And that is because the audit for CPBL for the 2012-2013 fiscal year, has not been done.”
News Five got hold of CPBL C.E.O., Henry Canton, this evening. He said that he had not seen the release so would prefer not to comment. Still, he acknowledged the difficulty to access funds held in commercial banks, stating that he is working to resolve the issue sooner rather than later. According to Canton, it is not so much a problem with management of the CPBL as it is a problem with the Board.