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PM Warns Cane Farmers: Come Correct #417343
09/29/11 08:11 AM
09/29/11 08:11 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 80,387
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

Or Don't Come at All

This Friday, September 30, 2011 - was supposed to mark a major transition for Belize's sugar industry - as this was the day when ING, the Dutch Bank was supposed to collect the 30 million US dollars from BSI.

As has been reported, BSI doesn't have the money and was looking for a strategic investor to bail them out.

But, as we have also reported, ING agreed to push back the due date on that loan for a year - giving BSI the luxury of having one way to sift through a number of corporate suitors.

But it's not that simple - ING requires that all sides re-commit to the memorandum of understanding, which was signed in November of last year.

That required government to give a 10 million dollar bailout loan to the industry while BSI, the Cane Farmers Association and the Sugar Industry Control Board committed to improving standards and having a near record year of production.

The good news for government this year is that it doesn't have to come up with ten million dollars this year - in fact, it doesn't have to come up with any money; it simply has to agree that it will forego all payments towards that loan for another year.

ING, on the other hand, will still get some payments made from BSI - even though it is a one year grace period.

All sides sat down at the Coastal Zone conference Room in the City today to publicly re-commit to the MOU - and PM Barrow took the opportunity to make it clear to the cane farmers that - in terms of their quest to buy over BSI - they'd better come good, or don't come at all!

First, though, he discussed the need for the MOU:

Prime Minister Dean Barrow - Prime Minister of Belize
"What we are signing is an extension of the MOU that was signed last year. We're signing it for 2 reasons, because it was a good MOU, and it produced the best crop in years, but also because ING would not extend their forbearance except, we were able to re-sign the MOU, and except Government was able to push back the repayment due on Government's $10 million."

Joey Montalvo - CEO, BSI
"It is a grace-period. We have committed to bringing the level of the facility down to certain levels, and that is going to one of the conditions. We have, in fact as of now, met those conditions, and we're just a couple of days away from the 30th of September. But it means bringing down the facility to levels that are acceptable to ING."

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"It's only us who aren't getting paid, you know. You realize that BSI is bringing down the ING facility. The only entity that's due money, that has payment postponed completely, is the Government of Belize. I hope that is absolutely clear, and remain so to the public. And in terms of going forward, this is a window of a year. Something has to happen that year, because if there is no strategic investor who comes in, ING will pull the plug, and then there will be no cane farming industry. We're happy to postpone our repayment. We are the only entity, as I said, not being paid anything this year, in accordance with our schedule, but we gladly do that because of the breathing space that is procured thereby. But people need to get real. The Government of Belize is out $10 million, which means that the people of Belize are out $10 million. And the people of Belize need to repaid. I would leave it there."

Jules Vasquez
"It's not a -"

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"It's not a gift."

Jules Vasquez
"Because excising it might sweeten the pot."

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"It is not a gift. I don't have the authority - I didn't go to the House for the authority to gift that $10 million. It was to lend $10 million, and I am in no position to convert that loan into a gift. So, that remains a loan. Now, I have already said, if the BSCFA can produce the level of funding that is required, and if employees and the factory want, in fact, to enter into that sort of a relationship with BSCFA as the strategic investor - hallelujah. But the monies have got to come."

Fred Ortega - Chairman, BSCFA
"What we are looking for is an equal opportunity, as other groups within the sector, to move to the step on the ladder where we want to go. Whosoever comes to be the strategic partnership - I think we as the BSCFA, as the leadership - we would need to negotiate certain benefits and conditions in favor of the farmers."

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"While it would be lovely if the BSCFA can do it - if they can't, and somebody else has to do it - the BSCFA needs to accept that, and to go along with that, otherwise, there will be no industry. If time is beginning to run out, and for some reason, the BSCFA is not able to put this deal together or if for some reason BSI and their workers, and their holdings trust, don't prefer to go with another offer, Government will act. And farmers need to understand that. We want to act in concert with the farmers, but we will act to save the industry if it comes to that, in spite of what might be a sub-grouping of farmers, who may be saying, 'Well it's either the BSCFA who owns this thing, or nothing.' No man, the larger interest of the industry, the larger interest of the economy, and the larger interest of the country cannot accept that kind of opposition."

And while government has made clear that it will only countenance serious suitors, we also pointed out to the PM that 2012 is - for all intents and purposes - an election year, when politicians are often pressed to make popular compromises.

We note, though, that he shrugged that off, sticking to his line that he will make the right decision for the industry.

Channel 7

Re: PM Warns Cane Farmers: Come Correct [Re: Marty] #417344
09/29/11 08:12 AM
09/29/11 08:12 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 80,387
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

There was a brief re-signing ceremony this afternoon of a Memorandum of Understanding among the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers’ Association, the Belize Sugar Industries Limited, the Belize Sugar Control Board and the Government of Belize. Earlier this year, in August, the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association made a proposal to purchase majority interests in the B.S.I., and thereafter, its executive members went looking for potential financing in order that the deadline to pay ING the more than thirty million dollars was due by the end of this month. The B.S.C.F.A. executives met potential investors from two Central American countries and another from the US, but Honduras’ Banco Atlántida, another interested investor, was the name ringing for the past several weeks as the most poised to land the deal. But that idea was met by resistance by industry stakeholders. After today’s panel attached their signatures to the newest piece of agreement reached, Prime Minister Barrow, Chief Executive Officer of the BSI, Joey Montalvo, and President of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers’ Association, Alfredo Ortega, shared the details and what it means, since ING had extended the deadline for its payment for twelve months, with conditions.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
“Basically this was one of the conditions for their agreeing to extend their forbearance for another year. Another condition was that Government has to put back the repayment schedule of the $10 million loan that we had extended so the grace period, there is another year added to the grace period. What we are signing is an extension of the MOU that was signed last year, we are signing it for two reasons, because it was a good MOU and it produced the best crop in years but also because ING would not extend their forbearance except we were able to re-sign the MOU and except Government were able to push back the payment due on Government’s $10 million so basically is what has caused the re-signing to take place. I insist though that even if there had not been a formal re-signing, my understanding is that the industry partners were going to proceed for the upcoming crop year to operate on the same principles on which they operated last year which are the principles enshrined in the MOU. But to make assurance doubly sure and in order to satisfy ING so that the loan which would have been due day after tomorrow can be suspended, the calling in is at a standstill for a year, this was also necessary.”

Joey Montalvo – CEO, Belize Sugar Industries
“It gives us an opportunity to take off the crop, in addition to that we have Tate and Lyle Sugars with whom we are currently agreed for an amount of $7 million to be advanced to us as advanced money for sales of sugar for next year for us to be able take off the crop. In addition to that, we requested the government of Belize to extend the grace period for the repayment of the $10 million loan and that again also is a part of the request by ING for us to be able to get that extension.”

Meanwhile, as far as the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association is concerned, its Chairman Alfredo Ortega, said that the past year’s accomplishments and the commitment of farmers for this crop year promises to yield a favourable outcome this time.

Alfredo Ortega – Chairman, Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association
“In this coming year the farmers are really engaged to continue and to better off where we had some weaknesses in it. So we are to work towards these harvesting conditions that will grant us more opportunities in getting more value for our sugar cane. On the other hand the other question you asked, of course we are working very diligently to get the support, presently we have the support from a group and we are working very diligently to develop the plan because the plan will entail what would be the way forward for us within the industry, what would be the investment within the mill and at farm level. We are at that point right now developing that plan so that we can present. What we are looking for is a equal opportunity as other groups within the sector to move to the step, to the ladder where we want to go. We want to see a crop where it can flow very good for us, that we shouldn’t have any stops like we had this past crop of 23 days. Farmers are looking towards that goal, that we have a fluent crop that will enable us to deliver our product in time so that we can maintain a coordinated harvesting season.”

I think that certainly last year when we had the problem with the turbines and we had 23 days of downtime but even so, let bygones be bygones, we are ready to go and even we look to last year and analyse our factory time efficiency we need to improve both overall time efficiency as Mr. Ortega said organizing the harvesting and the delivery, the coordination of that to ensure that we maximise overall time efficiency and indeed ourselves factory efficiency for us to be able to get the cane through the mill.

Alfredo Ortega – Chairman, Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association
“This year the Association is investing $1 million in replanting, the farmers are doing their own and there is an ongoing program under the DFC program of $3 million that the Government has put available that many farmers are already engaged in loans in this program so there is a sound re-planting program at this point. We were able to distribute to farmers $2 million worth of fertilizers in February and farmers were able to distribute this fertilizer on their field so the investment has been there at field level and we are seeing a promising production for this coming crop.”

Prime Minister Barrow said that a new strategic investor must be found in order that the industry can continue to be viable and so that the Government can receive their repayment of their ten million-dollar loan. The panel at today’s signing included Hugo Pott from the Sugar Industry Control Board, President of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association, Alfredo Ortega; Mr Novelo; and Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega.


Re: PM Warns Cane Farmers: Come Correct [Re: Marty] #417446
09/30/11 08:36 AM
09/30/11 08:36 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 80,387
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

B.S.I. gets extension from ING on large debt

This Saturday would have been the deadline for the Belize Sugar Industries Limited to pay thirty million dollars in debts to ING and FirstCaribbean International Banks. But B.S.I. got a lifeline since that deadline was extended by one year. The B.S.I. Group is knee deep in debt and last year the industry was on the verge of a breakdown, until government came to the rescue with a ten million dollar bailout loan in November. Back then a memorandum of understanding was signed, in which the government committed to the temporary solution for the financial crisis and the farmers agreed to provide a minimum of six thousand tons of quality cane daily. That MOU between the government, B.S.I. and the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association was penned again on Wednesday, as one of the conditions to the extended term for the ING loan. The chairman of the B.S.C.F.A.’s Committee of Management, Alfredo Ortega, says there are new conditions set by ING and he told News Five today that the association would have liked further modifications to the MOU before Wednesday’s signing.

Alfredo Ortega

Alfredo Ortega, Chairman, Committee of Management, B.S.C.F.A.

“According to what was said yesterday by Mr. Montalvo and the Prime Minister, ING postponed and gave one year but with certain conditions. One is the signing of the MOU and the other is an amount of payment to them by B.S.I. The amount was not said but some payment should be made to them. The prime minister also informed—well, one of the conditions from ING is that the government of Belize doesn’t charge anything from the loan that they gave B.S.I. last year. So it seems to be that the government this year will put on hold the ten million that they loan B.S.I. and also, not even the interest they are saying B.S.I. has the capacity to pay the government of Belize this year.”

Delahnie Bain

“So basically they are focusing on making payments toward the ING loan.”

Alfredo Ortega

“Towards the ING and the other institutions that they have loans with in regards to the BELCOGEN issue and the FirstCaribbean Bank that they also owe in that short term.”

Delahnie Bain

“Can you speak about some of the changes you would have wanted in the MOU?”

Alfredo Ortega

“Last year, there was—based on the signing of the MOU that an added would have been done, a B.S.I. managerial added and it was promised that that information would be circulated to the stakeholders and up to date we were unable to get a hold on that. From what we were told, that hasn’t finished as yet. There were other issues that we were promised also that the Bagasse negotiations would have started between B.S.I. and the B.S.C.F.A. and it didn’t happen. So those are things that we wanted to include within this new MOU so that we can have basic timelines when this should be—or at least when this negotiation should start so that is can reflect during this year that negotiations are ongoing in regards to the benefit to the farmers in the use of bagasse.”

Channel 5

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