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Aug 11, 2022

Controversial 7 Million Dollar Pharmacy Express Loan is Withdrawn

Tonight, Pharmacy Express Limited, owned by Julius and Angela Zabaneh, is once again making headlines, following a release earlier today by the Social Security Board.  On July twenty-fifth, we reported on a proposal by the S.S.B. to make available a loan facility of seven million dollars to the pharmaceutical company to be used for refinancing and inventory purposes.  That proposal was met with strong objection from the Government of Belize, particularly the Ministry of Health and Wellness.  We understand that opposition to the loan proposal was submitted in writing by Chief Executive Officer Doctor Julio Sabido.  It has been almost three weeks later, but the news tonight is that the controversial seven million dollar loan will not proceed. A statement issued by the Social Security Board this afternoon reads, “At the end of the period set for public notice, the S.S.B. had only received one written expression of concern which came from the Ministry of Health and Wellness.  The MOHW’s objection was on the basis that presently P.E.L. is not in possession of a pharmaceutical license to operate and therefore the entity was operating without a license and should not be dispensing or supplying pharmaceuticals to the public”. That, perhaps, may be the basis upon which an operation was conducted at the Fort Street Tourism Village on Wednesday during which a quantity of controlled drugs were reportedly seized by personnel from the Ministry of Health and Wellness.  News Five understands that there is a move by the Ministry of Health and Wellness to shut down Pharmacy Express and its subsidiaries.  Nevertheless, on August ninth, a letter written to Chief Executive Officer Deborah Ruiz by P.E.L. informed that the company was withdrawing its loan application, to which the S.S.B. responded by accepting same.  As a result, this brings the loan approval process and the inquiry, in respect of P.E.L., to an end.  Going back to the search that was conducted yesterday, News Five made several attempts at following up with officials from the Ministry of Health and Wellness, including Director of Public Health and Wellness Doctor Melissa Diaz Musa.  We were unable to get a comment on the matter.


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