Prime Minister calls urgent meeting of National Economic Council
Belmopan - 23 May, 2007
Members of the National Economic Council met this morning at the Central Bank conference room. The meeting was called by Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Said Musa, in an effort to update the members of the National Economic Council on the Universal Health Services (UHS) acquisition/loan.
Also present for this morning’s Economic Council meeting were Minister of Health Hon. Jose Coye, Minister of Tourism, Hon. Godfrey Smith, and Attorney General and Minister of Labor Hon. Francis Fonseca.
Attending the meeting was a wide cross section of stakeholders representing the various unions that make up the National Trade Union Congress, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Belize Business Bureau; the five commercial banks: The Bank of Nova Scotia, First Caribbean Bank, Alliance Bank, Belize Bank, and Atlantic Bank; the Belize Tourism Board, the Banana Growers Association, the Citrus Growers Association, the National Garifuna Council, the Central Bank, Health for Progress, and the University of Belize. The meeting was organized by the secretariat from the Ministry of National Development and chaired by its CEO, Hugh O’Brien.
Prime Minister Musa opened the meeting by cataloging the sequence of events that eventually led to the UHS situation and the motion that was read in the House of Representatives last Friday. The motion seeks to enable the government to assume a loan made by UHS with the Belize Bank for twenty-nine million dollars, payable over twenty –five years at a rate of ten percent.
Prime Minister Musa explained that he felt that it was the right decision to guarantee the UHS loan with the Belize Bank in order to keep the doors of the hospital open, and to follow the policy of the government to pursue a social justice policy that would make health care affordable to all Belizeans.
He went on to explain that government is legally obligated to pay the Belize Bank; failure to do so would have a negative effect on the investor climate for Belize. “We need economic growth, but it must be buttressed by social justice”, PM Musa told the Economic Council.
Minister of Health Hon. Jose Coye told the meeting that a due diligence interim report on UHS suggests that it can be made to operate profitable and be a viable entity once the appropriate measures are put in place.
Following the PM’s presentation, there was a lively questions and answer session from the various representatives who make up the National Economic Council.