Sugar Industry Commission Of Inquiry Held Behind Closed Doors

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A much-heralded inquiry into Belize’s sugar industry has started behind closed doors. The inquiry ordered by the government of Belize acting on the demands of Orange Walk-based Belize Sugar Cane Farmers’ Association, has experts from South Africa, Belize, the United Kingdom and Mauritius according to a Belize Government release issued today.

Prime Minister John Briceño established a Commission of Inquiry into the Belize sugar cane industry by signing a statutory instrument on March 19. The Commission held its inaugural meeting virtually on May 29 and plans to examine the entire value chain of the sugar cane industry, providing recommendations to the Government of Belize.

Chairman Wayne Piper, along with commissioners Robert Mariette and Vinod Ramharai from Mauritius, Jeffery Joseph from Belize, Andy Church from South Africa, and Simon Gibbons from the United Kingdom, attended the meeting. Lorena Posada, Secretary to the Commission, Hugh O’Brien, Lead Coordinator for the Government of Belize, Marcos Osorio, Chairman of the Sugar Industry Control Board (SICB), and Krity Neermul, Technical Coordinator for the Mauritius team, also participated.

The Commission discussed and agreed on a general plan for its first phase of work, which will include visits to the mills at American Sugar Refining-Belize Sugar Industries (Orange Walk District) and Guatemala-based Grupo Santander (Cayo District), as well as field trips to sugar production sites in northern and western Belize. Commissioners will start arriving in Belize in the first week of June, with the SICB providing logistical support.

The Commission decided that meetings will not be held publicly. However, Hugh O’Brien will keep the press informed of developments, and the Chairman will occasionally give interviews. The Commission aims to complete its report by November 30, 2024.