This news came out of a consultation meeting with growers held on Saturday at the CGA headquarters in Stann Creek District. The man leading the negotiations is CPBL director Julian Murillo, assisted by CEO of the Association Henry Anderson. Here is CGA director Denzil Jenkins speaking on their competence.
“We have the most competent engineers and managers who is responsible for most of what you see and yet you will talk nonsense about the factory’s so modern, everything is computerized”.
The CGA wants to move quickly, having lost valuable time in back and forth with Banks Holdings, who had wanted to keep PKF Belize. While that is being resolved Association Chairman Eccleston Irving explains what has happened since last week’s postponed meeting in terms of paying the growers.
“We called the meeting for last Saturday, and not 24 hours after we called the meeting, a first payment came out to Growers. Nothing was said until about Wednesday and Thursday of this week, the meeting was called today and again, Growers was paid for the week before that. So, Growers are behind one week of payment. The worst part is the uncertainty of not knowing when we get paid”.
The CGA says it is involved in a delicate dance with Banks Holdings, as neither side trusts the other enough to come together to make important decisions. There are other factors such as Belize Citrus Mutual, a group of large growers opposed to the CGA and insistent that the facilities should be split up.
Attempts to create a sort of backup plan if the negotiations should fail, on the ground of avoiding possible receivership initiated by CPBL’s banking partners, were rejected as being unnecessarily risky and it was agreed in the end to leave well enough alone.
It has been suggested that Government and in particular the Social Security Board be called in to assist with finance for a buyout. The CGA is also getting a boost from the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA), who recently forced a compromise with Belize Sugar Industries (BSI) on the issue of payment for bagasse. Vice-Chairman Alfredo Ortega rallied the citrus growers to ‘remain united’.
“This is very important for you to maintain united because only by you farmers go united, your leaders can do what they can do because if you don’t support your leaders, three of them going to Belmopan will reach nothing. We ought to remember that in Belize, our politicians are not taking care of us the farmers. They believe that the farmers have no value; they believe that we as farmers are ignorant and don’t have the opportunity to stand up or to sit down around the table where our higher politicians sit down and eat. But we are Belizeans just like them. It is we who vote them in. So, it is in our hands to put the power on our people. Gentleman and ladies, it is time for us to look for respect”.
The CGA is to present the results of Saturday’s meeting to Banks Holdings in the near future.