Earlier this week it was reported that on January 27th, the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA) was registered as a company. This caused major concerns within the members and directors of the association because there is a clause, specifically article 2 of the Companies Act of Belize, that says that once a company is registered an interim group takes over until a general meeting decides who they want as their leaders.
The argument on one side is that Alfredo Ortega, and a few others who were behind this move, are attempting to seize control of the BSCFA by registering it as a Company.
We spoke to Alfredo Ortega, via phone on Thursday, who categorically rejected that assumption.
“Those are the changes, but in no way or form the intention was, or is, to move the committee of management. The intention was, or is, and remains, that we want a protection to the farmers, a protection to the Association, and based on that, that move was made.
There is no other move that we want to hijack the Association, because within changing the name and it remains certified, and under the laws of Belize it is clearly stated that the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association is legally certified within the Companies Act.”
However, the longevity of that certification is questionable.
On Wednesday the Prime Minister told the media that the company was not properly formed with the word limited in the title, and so efforts will be made to have it revoked.
Ezequiel Cansino, the Chairman of the BSCFA, has also told the media they have all intentions of requesting for the cancellation of the registration of the BSCFA as a company.
On Thursday the Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture sent out a press release saying that, quote, “We urge him [Alfredo Ortega], his legal adviser, and those that signed on behalf of the new redundant company to rescind the registration of the company. This will save the legitimate BSCFA much needed time and financial resources from having to proceed with this matter in the courts of law”
The press release went on to say that, quote, “This blatant attempt to wrestle control of the Association and its assets from the farmers is immoral and illegal, as the legitimate BSCFA continued to function under the revised Sugar Industry Act, as they were recognized by the Sugar Industry Control Board (SICB) and issued a certificate of registration.”
However, according to Alfredo Ortega, being registered under the company act gives the BSCFA a different kind of protection that they cannot get from the SICB.
“The Companies Act gives a different protection, because it gives the opportunity to the BSCFA to handle itself autonomously. The difference between the SICB is that in any case, whatever transpires, the Association cannot restore its final decision. The Minister would be the one to make that decision. That is the difference between the application or the certification of the SICB, and the one from the Companies Act.”
Emanuel Pech – Plus News
“Again sir, I have to ask why wasn’t the majority of directors consulted. Why did you take it upon yourself and a few others members to go forward with this move, without consultation?”
“This move really had been coming on board from since 2010, well before 2010 from since the challenge came that there would be changes within the Act, where the Association would no longer be the sole association. We have been speaking about this, that we need to register the Association, so that it could have its legal identity, within the laws of Belize, and it just didn’t happen.
When we heard that there would be a move to dismantle the BSCFA, and if once dismantled that they would sell out all the assets that the BSCFA had, that is why we moved, because we expected that the present Committee of Management would have done so as early as possible.
You can see that they came, days had went by, and nothing has happened. They only reacted to when it was presented to them. What we were waiting [for was] a meeting for us to present that to them. That case has been registered on behalf of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association, so to protect the assets and everything that is legal property of the Association.”
A meeting will be called for the 22nd of February to have the matter discussed before the general assembly of the BSCFA, where they will decide the fate of the group behind this move.
According to Alfredo Ortega, at that meeting he will stand his ground to try and convince the general membership that this is the best way forward.
So considering article two of the Company Act of Belize, that states that a newly registered company is taken over by an interim agreement until a general meeting decides its leaders, we asked Alfredo Ortega if this should come to pass would he offer himself to be the new chairman. Here is his response.
“Will or will you not put yourself out there, for them to decide if they want you as Chairman?”
“No, sir, no. That would be left for the farmers, for them to decide who they want to be their leaders. Even so, I think that the farmers have the legal opportunity to say if the administration continues as is, as the by-law sets out, or if there would be any changes. It is the farmers that will decide, based on those points.”