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90 million more for Vampire Ashcroft thanks to the PUP Print E-mail
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Thursday, 23 November 2017 00:00

The Caribbean Court of Justice on Wednesday handed down a judgment that says that government should pay 90 million dollars to the Belize Bank for a loan which was resisted first by the people of Belize and then by the UDP government. Now the decision lies on the National Assembly to instruct that payment be made.

Some readers will recall that when the Musa administration on Friday May 18, 2007 attempted to pass a bill which would have seen the PUP pay a 33 million dollar debt incurred by Universal Health Services Belmopan was literally torn up. Thousands of Belizeans literally resisted causing chaos in Belmopan. After the mass discontent the PUP secretly paid the debt, obtaining 10 million dollars that the Venezuelan Government had granted Belizeans for the construction of new homes for the needy and additionally 10 million dollars that was granted by the Taiwanese government for improvement of healthcare in Belize was used to pay the debt.

On taking office in 2008, the UDP was asked by the Venezuelans to account for the money and it was then learnt that the money had been secretly diverted. That led the UDP to take actions to recover the 10 million dollars from the Venezuelans to be recovered from the Belize bank. That was then used to construct new homes for hundreds of Belizeans. But the Belize Bank was still of the opinion that it was owed money. But how was that?

It all started when PUP cronies including Luke Espat and Dr. Victor Lizarraga hatched up the idea to build a 56 bed hospital at a cost of $28 million. Initially the principals of the Universal Health Services secured a loan of 4 million dollars from the Social Security Board, but the loan was later assigned to the Development Finance Corporation (DFC). Then on 22 December, 2000 the DFC and UHS executed a loan agreement under which DFC agreed to provide a developmental loan of $28 million for establishing the hospital complex for which construction had already commenced.

DFC was unable to make disbursements in accordance with the loan agreement and therefore alternative arrangements had to be made with the Belize Bank in consideration of the DFC’s guarantee of repayment, to make available overdraft facilities for short-term bridge financing by way of an overdraft facility until the DFC was in a financial position to commence payment of disbursements to UHS pursuant to the said loan agreement.

The balance owed on this short-term bridge financing via the overdraft facility increased to $17 million which included interest. However, the DFC was still unable to make any disbursements to UHS as per the loan agreement. The Bank therefore offered additional financing to UHS via the overdraft facility on the condition that the DFC would provide a guarantee of payment on behalf of the UHS. The guarantee was so provided by DFC.

On 9 December, 2004, the then Prime Minister Said Musa in his capacity of Minister of Finance executed a guarantee for the debts and liabilities of UHS owing to Belize Bank. In furtherance of this guarantee, the Prime Minister executed a Settlement Deed and a Loan Note on 23 March, 2007. On 29 March, 2007 the Belize Bank made a further loan facility of 12 million dollars to the UHS. The Minister of Finance was a party to this Additional Loan Facility.

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 November 2017 14:22