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Mar 26, 2009

B.N.E. launches charitable trust fund

Story PictureBelize Natural Energy is the only oil company to extract and export commercial quantities of petroleum from Belize’s soil. It is estimated that from 2005 to 2008 B.N.E. earned three hundred and thirty-four million dollars. On July sixteenth, 2008, Prime Minister Dean Barrow introduced the windfall tax from which the government would share fifty-fifty any amount that B.N.E. receives per barrel of oil over ninety dollars. That windfall tax did not materialize because of the drop in oil prices. And while that did not go according to plan, a charitable trust agreed to between G.O.B. and B.N.E. is making good on a commitment to assist communities. Jose Sanchez reports from Belmopan.

Jose Sanchez, Reporting
When the B.N.E. Charitable Trust Fund was first established, the start up money was three point seven million dollars to be used to assist community organizations. It was part of a production sharing agreement signed in 2003. This year the Fund is distributing one million dollars.

Daniel Gutierrez, Chairman, B.N.E. Charitable Trust
“Belize Natural Energy wanted a mechanism whereby the funds or the revenue from the oil could come directly by the people and where they would be an independent body that would oversee a portion of it. The larger portion goes by the way of taxes and it should be. Thus, the idea came up for a B.N.E. Charitable Trust. And the government at that time saw it fit to go ahead with that idea. It wasn’t until the new government came on board that Prime Minister Barrow and Doctor Canton signed the agreement. In 2008, the B.N.E. Charitable Trust got started.”

Three of the six board members are appointed by the government. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Natural Resources, Gaspar Vega applauded the merits of the trust.

Gaspar Vega, Deputy Prime Minister
“This partnership signifies not only a moral commitment, but a written agreement, an agreement that brings us together for the common good of our people. This partnership will be key to the development of sustainable projects in both urban and rural areas. We are relying on this charitable trust and its board of trustees to implement effective strategies for the future development of our communities.”

The general Manager of the Charitable Trust, Deborah Sewell, said that one million dollars has been allocated for 2009-2010 funding year. But any group interested in benefiting from the fund must be established and self sustainable.

Deborah Sewell, General Manager, BNE Charitable Trust
“We looked for projects that aligned themselves with our vision and our goal, which is to fund general education and social environmental projects. So once we determine who those people would be, we invited them to a bidder’s conference where we went through in great details what the application looked like, they had copies of the application and what we would be looking for. Then we asked them to submit a full proposal, complete with a budget and a plan for sustainability so they had to show us adequacy of resources that they did have something to bring to the table in partnering.”

Daniel Gutierrez
“I would encourage Belizeans that want to partner with us because like we said earlier it is a partnership. It’s not just giving out grant money, it’s a partnership. We encourage Belizeans who have a need in the areas of the environment and general education to look to Belize Natural Energy Charitable Trust.”

The trust will monitor and evaluate the beneficiaries of the fund to ensure that the projects are properly executed. The merits of fund will grow as long as the oil continues to flow. Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

Some of the beneficiaries named today included St. Martin’s Credit Union and La Immaculada Credit Union who each received one hundred thousand dollars for student loans.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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