Supply control unit focuses on potential smugglers – Love FM Belize News & Music Power
5 mins read

Supply control unit focuses on potential smugglers – Love FM Belize News & Music Power

On Friday, we provided you with a list of local distributors who gained access to sugar from BSI/ASR. Given that more than 21 million pounds of sugar were released between October last year and April this year, curiosity remains as to why there was and remains a sugar shortage. It turns out that investigators from the Supply Control Unit can track down some distributors who do not use sugar locally. Supply Control Director Lennox Nicholson has provided an update to Love News, indicating that the unit’s investigation may be closer to identifying sugar smugglers.

Lennox Nicholson, Supply Controller: “One company that is doing a great job of trying to supply the market is actually Circle R out of Blue Creek. They were found to supply the retail market in a wide range. Mr. Ralph Tatum’s product and the Belize Marketing and Development Corporation also appear. Our concerns about this list are that the list includes companies that were recorded as receiving the product for further distribution to the retail sector and we found no evidence that they supplied anyone in the retail market. This is where our difficulty lies. So the companies that I mentioned, your Belize Marketing Council, Tatum, your Circle R, your Cowo, we were and along with a few others to a lesser extent were able to find evidence and find companies, establishments that were supplied by some of these parties , but there are several on this list, on this list of distributors, where we have not been able to find a single facility supplying these companies, and that is where we are going to focus our attention as we try to address the particular supply crunch that we are currently facing.”

One of several questions that arose from the list of sugar distributors was the name Octavio Cowo. We reported on Friday that both Cowo Senior and Junior have passed away, but as Nicholson explained, this particular company is now being run by the third generation.

Lennox Nicholson, Supply Controller: “We have made a commitment to the public that we will conduct some exercises in the retail sector to identify and establish which operators are actually delivering the product to the market. And during this exercise, I can tell you that a company known as Octavio Cowo has emerged as a supplier of products to the retail sector, actively operating in at least four, three or four districts. We can therefore establish that the company known as Octavia Cowo, which is included on this list as a sourcing sugar quota from Belize Sugar Industries, is very active and supplies products to the retail market. And in fact, I can tell you that my inspectors tell me that in one particular district, this particular company is responsible for about 90% of the product that was delivered to that district. So, although some of the people previously involved in the company may no longer be alive, the company itself as Octavio Cowo, which has a history of receiving products from BSI, we have been able to verify through our inspections and bills and invoices that they are very active. “I wouldn’t say we’ve been able to track every pound of product released or sold to the company, but we can establish and inform the public that the company is operating and supplying the market with products.”

As the Supply Control Unit’s responsibilities grow, our newsroom asked Lennox whether its human resources are limited. Our question is based on the recent increase in bread prices, the recent introduction of a zero duty rate on hygiene products and the issue of sugar distribution – all of which are monitored by the SCU.

Lennox Nicholson, Supply Controller: “We crossed the country from Corozal to Toledo in a week. We have two gaps with municipalities that we haven’t been able to cover yet, and we have a pretty good idea and indication of who is actually delivering and who may not be delivering to the extent that they are quoting and based on the list you mentioned, we have a pretty decent idea of ​​where some of the concerns should be placed and where the emphasis should be on reforms and improvements. So what has happened is that under normal circumstances, when we do inspections for other things, we just incorporate it into our normal routine. Frankly, if our office had any evidence that someone was smuggling sugar across the border, the first entities to be informed would be entities such as Customs, entities such as the police and entities such as the court. So, if every time we come across any significant evidence in this office that indicates that a person is actively involved in this industry, would that be the appropriate action that would be taken? But as I mentioned at this stage, we have tried to establish how the market is supplied and for those who receive product from BSI and do not supply it to the market or there is no evidence that they supply, market intervention will occur in particular in with respect to these entities.”

We will have more information from the Supply Control Unit, particularly on the issue of political interference./