You have heard the name Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association or BSCFA countless times in our newscast, especially in the months leading up to the
anticipated opening of the sugar crop in late January. Well, a separate issue has sprung up but this time regarding the association itself. Reports are
that a new private company –Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association Ltd – has been registered with the aim of replacing the existing association and
assuming its assets. Audrey Matura-Shepard told us today that she did advise some of the farmers on this matter but that she has nothing to do with the
removal of the original BSCFA.
Audrey Maruta Sheppard
"I did help some cane farmers with advise on the structure that they needed. You have to recall that when the act was removed, when section 32 to 56
was removed - that had set up the system to justify there being their committees, their visional areas, their branches. So my advice to them was simply
that you then need to be able to take that same system and incorporate it in your articles of association which sets out your system of governance. You
also need to make sure you have your memos. It's a normal thing to incorporate any entity, so it would be yes. That's just suspicion and speculation,
that's impossible. I believe that anybody who can register the associating has to be a cane farmer. You have to be able to subscribe on as a cane
farmer. I as an attorney would not get involved in that, why would I do that. That is out right mischievous and misleading to say that. The fact that
cane farmers recognise the need to go and incorporate, to me is nothing improper. The producers have incorporated under the companies act. Progressive
has incorporated under the companies act and so has BSCFA.”
Well, the Prime Minister says the BSCFA remains in full because a provision was made for it in the revised law. He says the move to try and replace it
is “dastardly” – and he hinted at who’s involved:..
Hon. Dean Barrow - Prime Minister
"Again, I don't know, I can guess. I don't know which lawyer or so called lawyer advised those that subscribed to this new company. I don't know how
there could ever have been any sense that to form this new company, would automatically mean that - that company can step into the shoes fo the BSCFA,
the real BSCFA. It's a dastardly move man on the part of those who some how feel that they can usurp and remove the democratically elected leadership
of the BSCFA properly speaking. And who feel they can as well, get after the people's assets. I would hope that they BSCFA will deal firmly with those
who are behind this move."
According to the PM, the company was not properly formed with the word Limited in the title and so efforts will be made to have ti struck from the
record. He also says that two of the BSCFA Directors who became directors of this company have now indicated that they were tricked.
In the Sugar belt, one side of the dispute is suggesting that the registration of the company was done by a faction of the association to steal the
trademark of the 55 year-old association, and also undermine the authority of the committee of management. The other side is suggesting political
operatives have been approaching the membership to join the Progressive Sugar Cane Producers Association. The accusation continues that once the
majority of the association leaves, a move will be made to sell off its assets since it will be non-functioning.
So, what does the Sugar Industries Control Board have to say, as the regulatory body? We got a chance to speak with the chairman, Gabriel Martinez. He
says that given all the strife that has happened within the Association, the industry does not need another quarrel within the BSCFA:
Gabriel Martinez - SICB Chairman
"After the amendment of the sugar act 2015, BSICB became the legal body, the body authorised to register associations. We received a request from 3
associations and after we go the requests and their by-laws, the SICB issued certificates of registration, which mandated by the sugar act 2015 is the
legal entity to carry on registrations."
"As the regulating body, is it a concern to you that in the background someone from BSCFA registered as a limited liability company?"
"Well of course, because we have just gotten out of difficulties, especially with the BSCFA and I think the terrain, the environment is not that
healthy or strong to be dealing with issues, sensitive issues as it pertains to other persons trying to do other things."