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May 19, 2017

How Will New Loans to D.F.C. and SIF Help Belize?

Elena Smith

The motions passed by the House on May twelfth for consolidated line of credit by the Caribbean Development Bank to the Development Finance Corporation and a loan to the Belize Social Investment Fund were taken to the Senate for approval. The Senate was also asked to pass ratifications for three agreements. Belize is to join the EU-Latin America and Caribbean International Foundation. It has also agreed with the Government of the United Arab Emirates for the promotion and reciprocal protection of investments. Similarly, there is agreement for avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion of taxes on income and capital. While the ratifications were agreed to without debate, the loan motions drew concerns on how the D.F.C. and SIF would handle the funds. The Government’s Senators tried to reassure their colleagues that the old culture of Government intervention in the Corporation’s affairs was now a thing of the past.

 

Elena Smith, Senator, Trade Unions

“We look at this motion here and we see that it’s going to be used for four sectors: small and medium-sized enterprises, student loans, low income housing and then energy efficiency/renewable energy. And our first thought was, so how will these funds be distributed among these four areas. If we look at dividing them equally, it would mean that each sector would get, roughly, about ten million. And so we look at the cost of a low-income home – and that would be probably about forty thousand or so for a low-income home. If we were to allocate ten million for that sector, it would mean that two hundred and fifty persons or two hundred and fifty homes would be built from that ten million. When we look at student loans, Mr. President, and we allocate another ten million to that sector, a student who would want to pursue a Bachelor’s degree – which we are roughly saying would cost about fifteen to twenty thousand to have that degree – it would allow six hundred-plus persons to benefit from the ten million, if these funds would be allocated the way we are assuming they would be. And so that is what happens when we don’t have details – we have to assume.”

 

Michael Peyrefitte

Michael Peyrefitte, U.D.P. Senator

“The Government or Parliament cannot give more details as to what will happen with these loans, because it is not the Central Government or Parliament that determines who will get the loans. How can we come here and attach to a loan motion and say in advance, who will get what? How much will be allocated to which sector? Which persons will get which student loan? Then the Government will be accused of pre-determining who will have access to the D.F.C. loans – that’s not how it works. The D.F.C. – the desire, the confidence the people have in the economy; they are lined up as the Prime Minister said, to access low-interest funds from the D.F.C. The D.F.C. has its own mechanism as to how they determine how and in what way and in what amounts they give their loans, to which persons, for which category.”

 

Carla Barnett

Dr. Carla Barnett, U.D.P. Senator

“DFC operates independent of Government; it has its Board. Government does not direct as my colleague said, who gets from – that’s a thing of the past – who gets money from D.F.C. and it’s expected that it will make its decisions independently when its Board meets on a regular basis to determine its operational matters.”

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