Last April, the hard drives of computers that belong to the Undersecretary of the Coastal Agriculture underwent an investigation by the National Intelligence Agency (Senain). During two months of analysis, Senain identified three alleged irregularities committed by that agency and its executive, Rafael Guerrero Burgos.
The irregularities found are: lack of control over the payment of the official price of bananas crate ($ 5.50), lack of punishment for banana exporters who fail to comply with such payment through the Interbank System and lack of recruitment of the fruit by the exporters, as noted by the Banana Bill.
A Senain source confirmed Daily El Universo that after two months of investigation it was determined that 30% of the 140 banana-exporting in Ecuador did not pay the official price to banana producers.
In addition, 72 companies did not pay through the Interbank Payment System (SPI), which means through the Central Bank of Ecuador, as required by Article 11 of Banana Bill in force since December 2010.
Only 9 of those companies were punished and another 63 showed as justificatory evidence checks and invoices, which were accepted by the Secretary Guerrero despite the fact that the law prohibits it.
Investigation by Senain came after banana producers told president, Rafael Correa that the official price was being disrespected.
The president asked Miguel Carvajal, former minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, to ask Senain to come up with exporters who do not respect the official price of the fruit.
The first banana companies with preliminary investigation are Silver Fruit and TecniAgrex in the provinces of El Oro and Los Ríos, respectively.
According with the reports, Silver Fruit was operating under the change modality to commercialize the fruit with producers, that means the company used to force producers to sell their crates for $ 2 or $ 3, depending on the agreements reached by the parts, and this one gave the exporter the difference between the official price ($ 5.50). After that, the receipts of the official price ($ 5.50) were signed by the producer. Producers used to be asked to keep the fruit if they refused the deal.
Banana export Tecni Agrex is being investigated because it pretends to be a producer, but it does not have plantations; a common figure taken to avoid taxes.
The names of other companies that are being investigated are:
– Fruit Deli which has a record for failing to pay the official price of 480 bananas crates.
– Probanaexport which export quota was increased, by the Secretary Guerrero Burgos in 2009, from 90.00 to 150,000 crates without any support or guarantees.
This company was authorized also – by the Secretary of Agriculture in December 2009 – to broke 40,000 bananas crates per week, which is also prohibited by Article 4 in the Banana Bill Regulation. (FO)
Source: Daily El Universo