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Nov 28, 2017

Belize Bank defends loan note, sledges Gov’t.

In anticipation of Wednesday’s announcement, The Belize Bank Limited is speaking out on the ninety million dollar judgment ordered by the Caribbean Court of Justice.  Much of the Bank’s three-page release offers the background in terms of the winding nature of the court case, which has been heard in one form or another in four different countries including Belize. But it notes that the development of Universal Health Services (U.H.S.) was against the backdrop of a plan to reform health care through expanding private facilities and the build-up of the National Health Insurance (N.H.I.) scheme. The Government was asked to step in when it liquidated original guarantors for the loan, the Development Finance Corporation, and U.H.S. was not able to service its debts in 2007. After initially refusing to honor the guarantee, the then-Said Musa administration subsequently agreed. The Bank writes, “It is important to note that there is absolutely no credible basis for suggesting the Loan Note is unlawful. Back in 2007, the Association of Concerned Belizeans brought court proceedings in Belize to challenge the validity of the 2007 Loan Note. There was only one argument that was advanced in these proceedings; that the Government breached the Finance and Audit (Reform) Act when it entered into the 2007 Loan Note. Some six years ago, in 2011, the Privy Council heard the final appeal in those proceedings and determined that the Loan Note was not in breach of the Finance and Audit (Reform) Act and was lawful.” This was later upheld by the L.C.I.A and C.C.J. The Bank further noted that that administration had intended to acquire U.H.S. and entered into a share purchase agreement, but was prevented from using its own funds by the A.C.B. court case. In respect of claims that the payment would be double, the Bank states, The L.C.I.A. Tribunal made it clear that the funds received by the Bank from the Taiwanese funds were to be deducted from the amounts due to the Bank by the Government. Despite allegations to the contrary, the return of the Venezuelan monies and the deduction of the Taiwanese funds from the outstanding debt owed to the Bank clearly demonstrates that the Bank is not seeking to be paid twice for the same debt.” The Bank goes on to list the many instances in which the current administration sought to undermine and brush aside the legitimacy of the Loan Note, including its multiple court proceedings and the re-diversion of the ten-million U.S. dollar grant from Venezuela. The release ends with a warning that because the funds are originally deposited by Belizeans, the Central Bank would take a very stern view if the Bank failed to recover the debt.

 

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