Friday, December 31, 2010

CITRUS INDUSTRY WAR CONTINUING INTO NEW YEAR 2011





CITRUS INDUSTRY MANEUVERING AND WAR OF WORDS CONTINUE!
Jan. 1st, 2011

The Citrus Growers Association, now a minority producer of fruit to the new citrus factory, controlled by an Investment Agreement, with a foreign investor; is continuing the war to take over the factory from foreign control. In fact, the CGA though a minority producer of fruit to the factory is losing membership and if one takes into account those members refusing to pay their membership dues, the participation of growers producing in the CGA has dropped to below 28% participation of the producers of citrus in the citrus industry. Growers continue to flee the original CGA and join the newer Belize Citrus Mutual Association. Even though they are losing their share ownership in the factory by doing so. By rights the membership should be able to take their shares with them, but it was never visualized this way and planned for.
The warfare has been declared by an elected CGA official one Denzil Jenkins. By hook, or by crook he is apparently intent on getting the wealth represented by the investment and broadened export, value added development, products and markets available from tapping the new citrus factory, value added processing, cash flows. The declining membership of this older Citrus Growers Association owns 51% shares in the factory, but they are not happy with just earning a dividend. They want to borrow loans on the factory and future production for their own benefits. The investment agreement protects the new investor who built the factory. Without a Board Meeting, Jenkins and his failing CGA cannot gain control of the factory. At the moment the new investor is working without a Board Meeting, thus controlling and protecting their investment from being plundered and wrecked.
To make it more complicated, there is at least one loan outstanding by the declining CGA, who are on their way to bankruptcy. I´ve heard of more, but don´t really know. At least one $16 million dollar loan to the CGA is owed to the European Investment Bank. This loan has been guaranteed by us Belizean taxpayers, as a sovereign loan. It looks like lost money and we can only wonder what security in turn, the Government on our behalf has for that $16 million sovereign guarantee from the CGA. I hope it was those shares? The CGA represents about 500 votes in National Elections and possibly as many as 2000 votes if family are considered. So politics played a big part in our guaranteeing that loan in the first place. The only thing the CGA has of value seems to be the 51% share ownership in the factory. I certainly would hope our UDP government does not seize those shares for assets and collateral. I would prefer to see the shares sold off to the highest bidder in an open stock market bid and ask, auction environment. The UDP government made a mess of distribution of the nationalized Belize Telecommunications company. With fancy words and misdirection they implied that people would get a 12% to 15% dividend, without actually saying it, if they bought BTL shares. The dividend when announced was 4.6% somewhere, as I remember it.
Belize Citrus Mutual Association the newer Association of citrus growers has no shares in the citrus factory and are made up of disenchanted former members of the first and older Citrus Growers Association. This newer Citrus Growers group represent 48% of the citrus produced for the factory. The factory itself produces it´s own fruit in the amount of 20% of the total. So in total 68% of the fruit to the factory comes from these people. The older CGA represent 28% or less of fruit contributions, if you count only paid up membership.
I myself representing the Auxillou Holdings would be interested in up to $100,000 of citrus factory shares, if the CGA share holdings come up for sale on the open market. We think the factory is on the right track for the future. There are very few public companies in Belize available to local investors, offering share participation in an open stock market type forum. There are none in fact. Share holdings are either private, or politically controlled. This processing factory shares seems like a good one for this. We lost out on the nationalized BTL public share sale, as it was heavily controlled by the UDP government, for some reason we never figured out and overpriced for open market auction type, bid and ask. The old monopoly – guild type colonial method of controlling a population and businesses.
There is the problem of CITRUS GREENING. Latest technicals think that planting every fifth row with a Guava tree and alternated with a Neem tree, would alleviate a lot of the problem involved with citrus greening. This is work for the Agriculture Department Research Unit to experiment with, to save the citrus industry. I am tonight drinking mango juice out of a waxed paper container, sold at the local supermarket, processed and packaged, imported in Belize, from the United Kingdom. Now you think about that for a bit and it makes you wonder what is going on in our fruit industry. We know they do not grow mangos in the UK. I was looking for Lime Concentrate today, in plastic bottles, imported again, but the stores are out of it right now. We grow limes in Belize. We grow Mangos in Belize. We grow papaya in Belize, we grow bananas in Belize. The foreign market is large. Especially for neighboring Guatemala and Salvador. Something is not being done right in Belize production for export. Whatever government policies we have do not work in my opinion.

No comments: