By Marion Ali, Staff Reporter
The Santander sugar group, which had sought a $12 million loan from the Belize Social Security Board (SSB) has withdrawn that loan application and has sought getting the loan from an international bank. This follows objections from the opposition Peoples United Party (PUP) and other sectors.
At a press conference on Friday morning at the Best Western Belize Biltmore Plaza Hotel, Santander Chief Financial Officer, Andres Ayau, told the media that Santander would have repaid the loan at a 7 percent interest rate – more than twice of what SSB is making off other investors. He said they invited SSB to take part in the loan as part of the company’s commitment to Belize’s economic development.
The Santander official explained that the company’s Board of Directors decided instead to withdraw its application to SSB and to seek the loan outside of Belize because of “the politicizing and negative connotation” it was given.
Ayau added that the Santander sugar company is designed to be one of the most efficient sugar operations in the world and that other investor companies are looking at Belize as a country in which to invest.
In terms of the operations, Ayau explained that the crushing of cane will begin in the next three weeks, if weather permits, and the company is preparing for a partial crop this year. He said that currently they are about to test their equipment to begin operations.