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Aug 31, 2004

Cabinet seeks to improve financial policy

And while the government of Belize will have to take whatever heat may result from any guarantees offered to Prosser, a late release just received from Cabinet outlines that body’s plan to make good on the Prime Minister’s various pledges of greater accountability and transparency in the management of the nation’s finances. I will read it in full.

1. A Public Finance Committee of Cabinet has been established to consider all matters relating to fiscal affairs, debt management and public enterprises. This Committee will be headed by the Prime Minister, and includes Deputy Prime Minister John Briceño and Public Works Minister Jose Coye ? both Ministers of State in the Ministry of Finance. Other members of the Cabinet Committee are Assad Shoman, Minister for National Development; Eamon Courtenay, Minister for Foreign Trade; Ralph Fonseca, Minister for Investment; Mark Espat, Minister responsible for Enterprise, and Attorney General Francis Fonseca.

The Cabinet Committee for Public Finance will be supported by a technical team of senior public officials, which has been charged to conduct a complete review of Government’s fiscal position. The technical team comprises Financial Secretary Hugh MacSweaney, Central Bank Governor Sidney Campbell, Chief Executive Officer Dr. Carla Barnett (National Development), Nigeli Sosa, Advisor (Natural Resources), and former Financial Secretary Joseph Waight (currently Financial Advisor in the Ministry of Education).

The technical team will embark on an immediate review of the fiscal management process, develop a short-term plan for fiscal and debt management to cover the remaining seven months of the current fiscal year and develop a medium-term plan for fiscal and debt management, which links the public finances to the medium-term economic strategy.

2. The Financial Secretary shall prepare a full list of all public sector loans, loan guarantees and other financial facilities of the Government and Statutory Boards, including the Social Security Board, the Development Finance Corporation and the Central Bank of Belize to be presented to Cabinet on September 14, 2004.

3. The Governor of the Central Bank shall present to Cabinet a paper setting out the terms of the proposed refinancing of loans with the Royal Bank of Trinidad and Tobago and the International Bank of Miami. He shall also present a comprehensive picture of Belize’s foreign exchange position and a foreign exchange cash flow statement to the end of 2004. Both of these documents are to be presented by September 14, 2004.

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