75 tonnes of Jack Charles’ controversial cheap Guyanese rice arrived by barge to the Big Creek Port in Independence Village Stann Creek early this morning. Our colleagues at KREM News were down south and spoke with Gustavo Carrillo, Manager of the Port, who told us when the shipment of three 20-feet containers docked and the process to be undertaken for it to be released to Jack Charles:
Gustavo Carillo, Port Manager: They arrived out of Santa Thomas, Guatemala, where we have our barging operation. The tugs and barrels arrived at the Big Creek Port at about 5 o’clock this morning. The barge was entered and cleared by the authorities, and the cargo was offloaded this morning. From the side of the Port Operations, Jack Charles has to do his documentations with customs, BAHA and all the authorities that are involved. The port would not release any cargo until custom authorized the port to issue the release.
But clearance was not obtained and undoubtedly, Charles was not too happy about it. He arrived at 1:58 at the BAHA Office adjacent to the Port Compound. There, he met with Israel Pech, Senior Quarantine Inspector who, after over half hour, denied the clearance:
Jack Charles, Importer: As you can see I have already processed my custom entry to get my goods to be released and after the customs we need to come to get clearance from BAHA and yes as you guys know we don’t have the permit but we have already applied for it. It’s an SCS permit. We already applied in July right, and we are here. We brought all the documents, all the certificates that we needed basically. Those are the same type of certificates that they had used last year for the importation of rice from Guyana. My consultant can inform you what is the official position of the BAHA on this particular shipment. Based on my instructions from my supervisor we are retaining the cargo and if farther information is needed, you can contact my supervisor.
Jack Charles, Importer: Don’t know, the safety department will be handling that.
Charles and his advisor, Sergio Garcia then held a press conference at a nearby restaurant where Charles explained what happens next:
Jack Charles, Importer: Well the office of BAHA as you can see basically, the making is being taken by somebody else. Currently I will wait a day or two, at least until tomorrow and see exactly if they have any legal grounds to present to me basically, but again as I said if they have the legal ground and they know the rice is coming on Thursday, from last week they know this rice is coming from Thursday.
So what happens if the rice sitting at the port is not released anytime soon? Here again is Port manager Gustavo Carrillo:
Gustavo Carillo, Port Manager: Well they would sit at the port and Jack Charles has 7 free days and after those days, he would have to start paying storage on the containers for the cargo. Yes it would be up to his discretion but if the authorities would not release the containers then they can come out of the port. It would be up to him and the authorities to decide whether they allow the cargo to be returned or what will happen to it. I assume that none of them would like to do it but sometimes it happens because of maybe they take long to process their documentation or maybe they need the storage space for whatever reasons, I guess best suits the importer.
Reporter: Are they allowed to store the goods indefinitely?
Gustavo Carillo, Port Manager: They’re allowed to store up to a certain time, if it is not cleared, then the cargo would be auctioned off or get disposed of depending on what the cargo is.
Gustavo Carillo, Port Manager: I would say three months
What’s worse for Charles if he does not get clearance soon, is that 7 more containers are expected to arrive in the next couple of weeks.