The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG) of Ecuador announced that it would audit 245 banana exporting companies, as well as 15 export associations with the aim of verifying that they are paying the minimum support price of a box of bananas, which is set at 6.25 dollars.
Companies that fail to pay the minimum support price will be sanctioned in accordance with the provisions of the Law to Stimulate and Control the Production and Marketing of Bananas, Plantain (Barraganete), and other related Musaceae, intended for export.
"Article 4 of the aforementioned legislation establishes penalties for non-compliance and recidivism. They may include monetary sanctions that multiply from 25 to 50 times the amount of damage due to non-compliance, and the suspension of exports for 15 days," the MAG stated.
“In case of recidivism, the export suspension will be 30 days. If they do not pay the minimum support price for the third time, the exporter shall be suspended for 60 days. If there is a fourth breach, the suspension will be definitive."
The audits will be carried out by the Undersecretariat of Strengthening Musaceae. In addition, a technical team of the MAG will cross information with the Central Bank of Ecuador (BCE) and its System of Interbank Payments (SPI). Once the audit and control process is completed, the corresponding administrative files will be initiated ex officio in accordance with the current legal regulations.
The Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, Bernardo Manzano, said that non-compliance will no longer be tolerated. “The minimum price must be respected to avoid harming the weakest link, our small producers,” Manzano said. Our only interest is to protect small producers so they can work under fairer and more competitive conditions, he added.