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Aug 30, 2000

Social Security Board publishes investments

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In a move toward transparency that was as welcome as it was sudden, the Social Security Board today released a full breakdown of its investment portfolio. A quick look at the figures shows that over the last decade the role of the social security fund has been transformed from a depository for cash into the nation’s most important development bank. News Five’s Stewart Krohn runs down the facts and figures.

Stewart Krohn, Reporting

In its early days the growing cash reserves of the Social Security Board were simply put in the bank as certificates of deposit. But as the fund’s assets have grown to nearly 173 million dollars successive administrations have sought out more aggressive, higher yield…and consequently more risky investments.

As of July thirtieth the largest part of the SSB’s portfolio had shifted to housing loans, with the board as the direct mortgage holder or as primary lender to other financial institutions like the DFC and various credit unions. Other loans under this heading went directly to Jim Hyde for a Belize City construction project and to the newly created Border Management agency.

HOUSING

D.F.C.—————-$25,122,990.64—-8.50%

ST. JOHN’S C.U. ——-$2,591,568.84—-8.50%

CIVIL SERVICE ———–$434,567.77—-9.00%

ST. MARTIN’S C.U. —–$1,197,691.12—-9.00%

RECONDEV —————-$766,829.09—-8.00%

EVANGELICAL C.U. ———$96,489.18—-8.50%

ST. JAMES BLDG. SOC. –$1,156,617.74—-9.50%

SUB-TOTAL————-$59,897,392.05

The second largest share of Social Security funds went to equity investments in three utility companies: BTL, BEL and BECOL. While BTL’s dividends have become legendary and BEL’s are promising, the BECOL investment has yet to yield returns.

UTILITIES

BEL —————–$16,600,762.50

BZE. ELECTRIC CO. —-$4,680,000.00

BTL SHARES ———-$25,972,209.42

SUB-TOTAL ———–$47,252,971.92

Bank developments represent the third largest share of the SSB portfolio with over 23 million dollars earning from 7 to 8.5% annual interest.

BANKS

CURRENT ACCTS/ ———–$9,021,350.19—-7.00%

SAVINGS ACCTS

7 DAY CALL ACCT. ————$551,922.91—7.00%

CERTIFICATES OF DEPOSIT –$14,128,498.09—8.50%

SUB-TOTAL—————–$23,701,771.19

Over 17 million dollars has been allocated to agricultural loans, primarily to the Citrus and Banana Growers Association. One loan that stands out is 2 million dollars provided at below market rates to a private company in Toledo controlled by a foreign investor, one Mr. Sorenson.

AGRICULTURE

CITRUS GROWERS ————$200,000.00—11.00%

ASSOC. 99-00

TOLEDO FISH FARM ——–$2,000,000.00—10.00%

SPANISH LOOKOUT COM. ——$639,207.24—-8.50%

BANANA GROWERS ASSOC. —$6,000,000.00—10.00%

CITRUS GROWERS ———-$8,600,000.00—10.00%

ASSOC. 00-01

SUB-TOTAL ————–$17,439,207.24

Loans or equity investments in the tourism industry have been made to the tune of almost 10 million dollars and the track record in the area has been poor. Shares in the old Ramada Hotel are still carried at book value, but are believed to be worthless, while an inexplicable loan of $51,000 to the now defunct Universal Travel Services will probably never be repaid. Two loans of nearly a million and a half dollars each have been made to build resorts in Cayo and Caye Caulker by the Aguilar and Vega families respectively.

TOURISM

MAYALAND ENT.——–$1,462,300.00——12.00%

BZE. HOTELS DEV. —-$2,775,686.68——

BZE. ODESSEY LTD. —$1,461,144.86——12.00%

UNIVERSAL TRAVEL ——-$51,784.67——13.00%

B.A.A. ————–$4,235,225.25——12.00%

SUB-TOTAL———$9,986,141.46

The board’s real estate holdings are valued at 8.7 million dollars and it owns 3.7 million in shares in three financial institutions.

LAND

REAL ESTATE————$8,737,244.48

FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS

ATLANTIC BANK SHARES ——-$152,490.00

BIMCO ———————-$985,641.11

NAT’L DEV. FOUNDATION —-$2,577,974.76—8.50%

SUB-TOTAL————–$3,716,105.87

Almost 2 million has been loaned for education, while additional small loans have been made to the YWCA and the Urbina Brothers of Orange Walk. The Urbina operation is believed to be defunct.

EDUCATION

DFC STUDENT LOAN ———$1,608,479.77—-8.50%

BRC PRINTING LOAN ———-$145,211.04—11.00%

BZE. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL —–$181,256.26—10.00%

SUB-TOTAL ————-$1,934,947.07

SOCIAL SECURITY DEVELOPMENT ACCT.

YWCA —————$14,599.59—–6.00%

URBINA BROTHERS—–$65,486.93—-12.00%

SUB-TOTAL——–$80,086.52

Independent analysts tell News Five that the overall health of the investments is strong and that the few week spots are the result of politically motivated decisions by both governments.

It is hoped that the Social Security Board will continue to publish its portfolio on a regular basis. And if it is going to act as a development bank, prospective developers may want to learn how to apply for a loan.

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