General / Weekend News

Central Bank reserves $78 million lower after BTL payments

Benjamin Flowers, Staff Reporter

The foreign reserves in the Central Bank of Belize are between 20-25 percent lower today, following the Government of Belize’s US $78 million payment to the Michael Ashcroft owned entities Dunkeld International Investments and the B.T.L. Employees’ Trust.

GOB made the payment yesterday in accordance with a Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) ruling which set the deadline at Friday, November 10. With the payment made on time, GOB has avoided an 8.43 percent interest penalty charge.

Financial Secretary, Joseph Waight told the media this week that the payment will not cause any pressures on the financial system locally because businesses and importers receive their foreign exchange from their commercial banks. Waight also said that losing around three months of import cover from the reserves will take some time to recover, depending on various external factors.

“Hopefully, you will not have any natural disasters. It depends on the price of oil on the world market because those are our big imports, machinery, and things. It’s a little difficult; I would figure about 2 years,” Waight said.

The payment constituted the final settlement for GOB’s 2009 and 2011 nationalizations of Belize Telemedia Limited. With the exception of the pending litigation over the $15 million in compensation for the BTL shares GOB acquired from Sunshine Holdings Limited, the payment brings and to almost 10 years of litigation over the company.

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