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Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,392
Marty Offline OP
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Date For Season Opening In Sight

Tonight, there is palpable relief in the Sugar Industry after a positive meeting between the cane farmers and the factory owners which finished an hour ago.

�At the end of the meeting at the BSI Staff Club in Orange Walk, the Vice Chairman of the BSCFA's Committee of Management and BSI Representative Belizario Carballo declared to the media waiting outside that the crop may start on January 16, if the farmers and ASR agrees to a new proposal which they discussed today.

Belizario Carballo - CFO, BSI
"Both sides expressed mutual interest to getting on with the crop, and I think that this is hopefully what will drive us. We know that the conditions aren't ideal. We know that we will be starting the crop under very difficult road conditions, but clearly, we have to make a start, and time is not in our favour. Certainly, we are hopeful that we can start the crop within a short period of time. We have tentatively been discussing the possibility of starting January 16, next week Thursday. Hopefully, we will be able to agree on that."

Alfredo Ortega - Vice Chairman, Committee of Management, BSFCA
"What we are looking for is in regards to what we've been asking them in regards a payment for Bagasse, and also putting on part what they had presented to us, which was to start the crop without interruption. We have also placed on them that we are asking them to maintain the memorandum of understanding with relation to the past agreement, and also that each side can move forward without prejudice."

"Has it been clarified the part where bagasse will be paid for; or is there a compromise saying that yes they are going to pay the cane farmers for bagasse?

Alfredo Ortega
"Well, in certain views yes, they will be clarifying that with the letter that we have sent to them, which they've taken on today. They will be presenting it to the ASR Group, a response, which they will be sending us tomorrow."�

Both sides will take it back to their principals, BSI to ASR, and the BSFCA to their general membership. Assuming that both sides agree to the interim agreement - with any possible amendments to the language - by�Monday, there should be enough in place to set a start date, and, again that possible date is�January 16.

But the delay has caused the sugar industry to lose a projected 10 million dollars had the season started 6 weeks ago. That projection may increase if this new proposal is not agreed upon by both sides.

They are hoping to produce one hundred thousand tonnes of sugar cane.

Channel 7

Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,392
Marty Offline OP
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Sugar Compromise Still Being Worked Out

On Wednesday, 7News told you about the most positive development in the ongoing bagasse dispute between the cane farmers and the factory owners. They discussed a proposal from the cane farmers which, from what we've heard, gives compromises to both sides, and allows for realistic expectations from each other.

BSI, after reporting to ASR, was supposed to get back to the cane farmers association with whatever language they wanted change, and at the BNTU rally, we asked the vice chair of the association's committee of management for an update. Here's what he told us:

Alfredo Ortega - Vice Chair, BSCFA
"I went this morning to the association and we haven't received anything as yet. We are waiting on that response. It would be an interim agreement that we will be presenting to the farmers on Sunday, we are awaiting on that, but if we don't received that we will still be holding our meeting on Sunday with the cane farmers."

"As you know time is going by and the situation with our farmers, many of them owe the banks. Almost 99.5% of our farmers owe the banks and the financial situation with them that have their kids in schools and for trying to maintain food for their families. So those are things that we have to be looking forward and that is why we will be calling this meeting on Sunday regardless if we receive or not. But I do hope that BSI act in good faith as they said that they will be sending us that information, so that we can present to the farmers."

"We are waiting today, so we hope that they act in good faith and send us that information. What we are asking for is the same position; that we want something in writing that will demonstrate that both of us commit ourselves in having a signature from B.S.I. that there will be a payment for bagasse and also that we ourselves will be looking to have crop without interruption and also maintaining within. As you know we are working with our past agreement that we have. But we want something solid because of the situation that we are going on and we have agreed upon on certain things of the new agreement that we have not signed as yet. So those are the things we are incorporating within the interim agreement that we want to sign with B.S.I."

Daniel Ortiz
"In showing good faith to ASR and the government what conditions and clauses have you guys included to show them that look, we aren't as unreasonable as you make us out to look."

Alfredo Ortega - Vice Chair, BSCFA
"We are prepared to negotiate a date for crop once we finalize our meeting with the cane farmers and having the approval of the farmers that yes we need to start a crop. Also we are looking forward in maintaining certain areas within the agreement that we have which demonstrate the part of bi-products that are in there and we are looking forward in that either side would be prejudice of each other that we can maintain our legal rights in everything. We are looking forward in demonstrating on our side that we are prepared to negotiate to have a benefit of the industry."

Tonight, we contacted Alfredo Ortega, who told us that the association got a response hours after he granted us that interview, and it had some language that they didn't agree with. They've sent back that amended version of BSI's amendment, and they expect a response on it by tomorrow. The cane farmers association will be holding a general membership meeting on Sunday to report all new developments to them. They are then expected to have a second meeting with BSI on Monday with a new mandate on the crop season's status, which everyone is hopeful will start on next week Thursday.

Channel 7

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