Editorial

Editorial

It is easy to see why PUP Leader Mr. Johnny Briceño would want the National Assembly to agree to pay off a PUP debt of $30 million which has amassed $60 million in accumulated interest.

If only Prime Minister Barrow would agree to pay up, that would be one less problem for Mr. Briceño to deal with whenever he becomes Prime Minister. But if Parliament under Prime Minister Barrow refuses to pay the debt, it will become a huge problem for any new government to deal with.

It must be remembered that the people of Belize did not get one penny’s worth of benefit from this private investment, and are now being called upon to pay $90 million for something they know nothing about.

The investors who borrowed the money are not being pressed to pay the debt, and those who backed the loan with its iron-clad government guarantee are not being held responsible!
The Belize Bank, which provided the initial loan of $30 million must have known that it was highly improper for the State of Belize to be backing a private investment loan like this. But it was prepared to take the risk.

Today we look back on those monstrous events, and we wonder: How could this have happened! And how can the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Belize National Teachers Union which condemned this insider deal when it became known, now urge the government of Belize to take full responsibility for this swindle?

There is no doubt that Belize will have to come to terms with this debt sooner or later. But we believe there will have to be serious concessions on both sides!
The first priority for any new government will be to seek to put a freeze on all interest charges. These interest charges stand at $60 million today. Without a freeze they will quickly rise to $100 million in the years ahead; faster than we can earn the money! So the first order of business must be to freeze and reduce the interest!

We believe that a cap of $30 million in interest is ample compensation for the bank!
It will be interesting to see what the new Parliament will say about the court order to pay out $90 million from Consolidated Revenue for this loan. Unless the new government can muster the votes needed for approval, the money cannot be paid.
Our guess is that the new Parliament will say “No”, just as the present Parliament has said “No!”

What follows will be an impassioned debate over how much of this $60 million interest charge the Government of the day is prepared to pay, and how much in new taxes will be needed to meet this new commitment!

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