Last Wednesday, April 2, the newly reconfigured Board of Directors of the Citrus Products of Belize Limited (CPBL) met at CPBL’s headquarters on the Stann Creek Valley Road in the Stann Creek District, and current Social Security Board (SSB) chairman Doug Singh was unanimously voted to assume the chairmanship of the recently embattled company.
The meeting was the first to be held since the terms of a new Memorandum of Understanding were ironed out by the Government of Belize in conjunction with the other stakeholders in the citrus industry to move the company out of an impasse at the end of February.
Amandala spoke to the new chairman Doug Singh today and firstly, he gave us a breakdown of the compilation of the new CPBL Board members.
He explained that the new board is comprised of two directors from Banks Holdings, namely Richard Cozier and Henry Canton; two representatives from the Citrus Growers Association (CGA), who are Henry Anderson and Denzil Jenkins; Karen Bevans, who represents Heritage Bank; Jose Novelo from the Ministry of Agriculture, representing GOB; and of course, Singh himself, who also acts as the representative of SSB.
Despite serious dissent between CGA and Banks Holdings at the Board level in the past, the two parties came together in a rare but encouraging show of solidarity and nominated Singh as the new Chairman of CPBL.
Singh told us that another essential issue that was discussed at the meeting was the decision on the appointment of a new auditor for CPBL – which happens to be an issue on which the last Board was gridlocked, and which led to the crucial cash flow crisis in the citrus industry that eventually forced GOB to intervene by buying out CPBL’s $15 million First Caribbean International Bank loan and fronting another $4 million to ease the severe cash flow crunch.
Another thorny issue that the Board assessed was the decision on the fate of CPBL’s Chief Executive Officer, Henry Canton, who was not at the meeting but was represented by an alternate, Allan King.
According to Singh, the new Board is in the process of determining a direction relative to CEO Canton, and another meeting will be held next Wednesday, April 16, to further consider his post.
In conclusion, Singh informed us that the meeting was “relatively cordial” and he believes that the industry is now moving in the right direction.