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Oct 26, 2017

How Telemedia Will Handle Planned U.S.-dollar Loan

Valerie Woods

In contrast to the debate in the House of Representatives which centered on the salary of its C.E.O., the Senate’s debate of the International Banking (Amendment) Bill focuses on Belize Telemedia Limited’s efforts to obtain a loan for the Internet to houses broadband program, costing thirty-five million U.S. dollars. It intends to obtain a portion of this through a loan from Atlantic International Bank Limited. Already B.T.L. has obtained waivers of loans associated with its former owners and the repayment for the nationalization reduced the foreign reserves of the Central Bank at this time last year to just over four months’ worth of imports. The question raised by Opposition Senators concerned its ability to repay. Banker Stephen Duncan responded that in his understanding both the company and the country can afford the loan.

 

Valerie Woods, P.U.P. Senator

“I don’t see why the Bill is necessary, but if I go by what has been exchanged in the House, as I rise for comment on this, it is really about the statement that this really is to facilitate, came about because of the need to facilitate B.T.L. investing some thirty-five million dollars by way of a loan from an international bank, I think the bank cited was Atlantic International Bank. Given the concern that the country has had over foreign exchange, obviously that would raise some concern, because that would require repayment in U.S. currency or the foreign currency. And so that raises the question: if this was, as is understood by the exchange in the House, because of the need for B.T.L. to invest – and the reasons, quite frankly are irrelevant; that is not why one should do this. It’s to look at the impact on foreign exchange here. Is it that the company has demonstrated – and there is the data for that – its ability to repay without there being a strain or drain on the foreign exchange.”

 

Stephen Duncan

Stephen Duncan, U.D.P. Senator

“As I understand it, within the system right now we are very liquid in terms of domestic liquidity – Belize dollars. But what is happening here is B.T.L., to my mind, recognizing that in order to do what they wish to do, they need U.S. dollars, and so the international banks are able to lend them in U.S. dollars. I get the impression and it is my understanding that B.T.L., and if the country can over time afford what is happening – but to do it in one lump sum,  would be challenging; but over time you could do it. B.T.L. itself generates U.S. dollars and so they are able to use those U.S. dollars to pay back and service a U.S. dollar loan. That is why you get a loan from a source that has the U.S. dollars and then you are able t pay it back over x number of years because you can afford it. Also, the country itself would probably be able to afford it if it is spread over a period of time rather than one lump sum.”

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