The afternoon session of Sunday’s Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association meeting dealt with misappropriations of BSCFA funds of some 78 thousand dollars, for the period of September 2011 to May 214. Audit showed records of 10 people with irregular salaries between the period of March 2012 to May 2014 and 6 people with unpaid loans. Alfredo Ortega, Vice Chairman of the board, told us more.
“In any place, whenever funds are misused it is not taken lightly by the members. I think that we have come with a clear presentation to them, based on the audit report that we have. There will always be people who will jump here and there based on certain things that are there, but we are coming clear to them. We are not hiding anything. We have presented to them the names of the people who were involved and what we are looking forward to is to recuperate the funds that were not used properly from the people who are involved in the situation. I think we have recovered in the vicinity of six thousand dollars. So we need to recover about seventy-two thousand dollars more, to complete the seventy-eight thousand”
Something else that threatens the BSCFA coffers is the Temporary Suspension of the Associations Fairtrade license, which binds them from signing Fairtrade commercial agreements with other bodies until all irregularities have been corrected
“Immediately it’s going to affect us, because then we have to employ time now, not only time but funds also, for the non-compliance, for us to put the corrective measures together. Not only to put them [together], but also to put them into action. Also this means that the Association will then have to invest some more funds, because we have to pay now at least two times more for the auditors to come. One is to check the corrective measures that we’ll put in place. The other one is to see that we are complying with the corrective measures that we have proposed. Those are investments that need to be done, for the suspension be lifted, within this six month period. There is something that we have to send before the six months. We have thirty days to send to central office what would be our corrective measures.”
According to a letter sent from FLOCERT to BSCFA on the 16 of July, the organization has 30 days to formally respond and get the suspension lifted. This is thesecond suspension of the BSCFA from FLOCERT.