Paco Smith Responds to Mario Lara's question
Paco Smith | Chairman | BPP responds: Mario Lara, that is precisely the case. Guyana subsidizes its farmers. Belize could and should do the same, yet via successive administrations, the modus operandi has been that of political tribalism.
The two political parties have assisted, selectively,yet not across the board, which is required to give all Belizean rice producers an increased capacity to produce both effectively and efficiently, thus becoming increasingly more competitive.
Given the rumours which have emerged concerning the past importation of Guyanese rice, which was then, purportedly repackaged, with a local brand, the entire scenario reeks of collusion and corruption, from the top, along with certain, key players in the industry.
For me, this signals yet another instance which serves to highlight how Petrocaribe funds should have been used, instead of the piece-meal and non-strategic (that is in terms of elements other than political) manner in which they were. After all, the GOB had a considerable amount of funds at their disposal, via the Petrocaribe Loan Agreement, through which they should have invested not only in the rice industry, but also in other productive sectors. In all, it would have been prudent for the Barrow Administration to also invest those funds into efforts which promoted the value-added component of some of Belize's agricultural products.
Yet, alas, given the myopic viewpoint of our elected representatives, it appears as though such novel concepts were again, lost to them. The unfortunate, bottom line is that we continuously allow ourselves to be hoodwinked by these attorney-politicians who, based on their long and loathsome track-record of willful negligence and intentional dysfunction, evidently do not have the best interest of the masses, at heart.