More Write Offs and $80 Million more for DFC Print E-mail
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Written by Shane D. Williams   
Thursday, 26 September 2013 00:00

Hon. Dean BarrowIn his Independence Day address to the nation, Prime Minister Barrow announced that the Government of Belize will write off another .22 million in loans from the Development Finance Corporation as “an Independence Day gift”.

Public gifts have become a regular feature announced in Prime Minister Barrow’s Independence Day, Christmas and New Year’s addresses. Previous gifts include loan write offs, tax exemptions, lowering of utility rates and new social assistance programs. In this latest gift, government will forgive the debts of 361 Belizeans. According to Prime Minister Barrow, most of the loans are from the mortgage program with a few from the education and productive sectors. He says most of the loans have already been foreclosed upon and the DFC has seized and sold the borrowers’ collateral. However, the sale of the collateral was not sufficient to cover the debt; therefore, the borrowers are still on the hook for the balance and are being “hounded by lawyers and bill collectors”. Individuals benefiting from this new debt relief initiative should be receiving notification letters soon.

The restoration of the Development Finance Corporation will be a huge chapter in the legacy of this United Democratic Party’s administration. After the institution was crippled and left for dead by the People’s United Party, Prime Minister Barrow injected the institution with $20 million to resume its lending program. Before that was done, a sound governance structure was implemented featuring a Board of Directors that is not politically appointed. The Board of Directors has been placed in the hands of the private sector to promote transparency. There are nine board members and five are from the private sector: one member each from ATLIB, Chamber of Commerce, Belize Credit Union Limited, Institute of Chartered Accountants and the Belize Bar Association. Many have expressed concern about the fate of the DFC after the birth of the National Bank. Prime Minister Barrow assured the public that the institution is still an extremely important vehicle in Government’s development agenda. The DFC has regained operational profitability and 83% of its lending program is directed towards the productive sector. Prime Minister Barrow announced on Independence Day that not only will the institution not be downsized but it will actually expand its lending portfolio by $80 million over the next few years. That is guaranteed by Cabinet.   

The DFC remains committed to funding development projects of individuals who cannot meet the terms or interest rates of commercial banks.