By Benjamin Flowers, Staff Reporter
Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA), this week, said the issue with the imported Guyanese rice by businessman Jack Charles, is the result of the shortcomings of the Government of Belize.
COLA said there are various issues within the rice industry that should have been dealt with a long time ago, not only by the Ministry of Agriculture, but also by the Belize Marketing and Development Corporation (BMDC).
“Why wasn’t the vaunted Petrocaribe funds used to support our agricultural industries, as Guyana did, rather than being spent on vanity projects with no discernible value to Belize in the future?” COLA questioned.
The group also said it does not support GOB’s decision to destroy the rice, and urges the powers that be to consider having the rice tested for any contamination and distribute it to organizations which would in turn give it to needy Belizeans.
COLA maintains that Charles should not be compensated for the rice, which was imported illegally because he did not have the required permits from local authorities.
“While his intentions were good, his methods were poor, and he should not receive different treatment from the average wrongdoer,” the group said.
In December, Charles imported some 75 tons of rice from Guyana, which were later seized at the Big Creek port in southern Belize. Charles has since filed judicial review proceedings on the matter, but his application was rejected by the Supreme Court.