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#324765 - 02/21/09 03:34 PM Belize Bank to become a more Traditional Bank
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From yesterday's interview with Michael Ashcroft on his own television station:

Although Belize Bank has 41% market share, their lendings represent 69% to the marine product sector, 68% to the mining and exploration center and 77% to the tourism sector (probably quite some of his own businesses btw), but that is going to change. He is bringing in fresh people who will reevaluate the strategies to become more a traditional bank, more reluctant to the productive sector. Belize Bank may call in some loans and has started to increase interest rates. They have to recover the thirty-one million Ashcroft added.

Logical decisions considering todays Belize and Global markets, but not his best PR move ever. Threatening with "I told you so" has never been received with much enthusiasm in Belize...

These are the interviews:
Originally Posted By: Channel5
Michael Ashcroft restructures his banking business…

He has close to two hundred investments in countries around the globe and as such Lord Michael Ashcroft has quite an insight into economics. Today, he stopped by the Open Your Eyes morning show and for about an hour, he touched on a wide range of issues. Ashcroft has been having his own share of economic woes, mostly in his dealings with the Government of Belize and the two have been involved in several very public legal battles. According to the businessman, the now antagonistic relationship and the recent extraction of thirty-one million dollars from the Venezuela money and back taxes has led him to restructure his banking business. And it is the productive sector that will feel the pinch.

Lord Michael Ashcroft

“Even though we have a market share of forty-one percent, we lend sixty-nine percent to the agricultural sector, sixty-eight percent to the marine product sector, seventy-five percent to the mining and exploration centre and a staggering seventy-seven percent to the tourism sector. And these are areas that traditional banks have been more reserved in backing entrepreneurs and this is balanced by the fact that on the easy lending of consumer credit, we only have sixteen percent which is a sector that sucks in imports and takes foreign exchange out of the country. So Belize Bank has been very responsible and responsive to the long-term needs of Belize and one of the reasons that we have been able to do that is because we act more like business people than bankers and can understand the business plans of entrepreneurs. But because of what has happened, we have taken a policy decision that we want to diversify away from Belize and that we want to move to be a more traditional bank. Therefore, it’s important now that fresh people come in who can review the strategic objectives of the bank and start over the next two or three years of moving the bank into a different direction. So we will now be reluctant to lend to the productive sector, we’ve got to recover the thirty-one million. We may have to call in some loans, we have started the process of increasing interest rates. We will do nothing that will rock the stability of the economy, but basically we want to move away from Belize; diversify into the U.S. dollar.”

Additionally, Ashcroft says that he has changed the name of the bank he operates in the Caribbean from the Belize Bank to the British Caribbean Bank. He says the move was because carrying the tag Belize was counterproductive to its development as it is difficult while the home bank is being harassed by the government and the regulators.


Originally Posted By: Channel5
…And says his companies aren’t the only ones affected by G.O.B.

Ashcroft says his companies are not the only ones being affected by GOB’s decisions... and he points to NEWCO, the international consortium of companies tied up in legal battles with the government over a nine billion dollar arbitration settlement in respect of a canceled airport contract with the past administration. NEWCO also finds itself at odds with government over a change in the tax laws.

Lord Michael Ashcroft

“This government, during this last year, changed the law so that if the tax department levied tax assessments on a citizen, that before you could appeal that assessment, you have to pay it first and that is being challenged under the constitution; that you are in fact depriving people of property before they have a chance to articulate their case in the courts. When the government first did that, everyone thought this was aimed specifically at the Belize Bank and B.T.L. to force them to pay taxes before the bank or B.T.L. would be able to argue the case and so there was little sympathy for those two monster companies in Belize. But what the government has done in another case, NEWCO which is where people came to invest in Belize to buy the airport concession, spent money, signed contracts and then the government gave the concession to other people. They sued, there was a breach of contract under international arbitration and were awarded five and a half million dollars compensation. What the government has now done is levied sixty-eight tax assessments on NEWCO between I think 2002-2007 and under the law brought in by this government is that NEWCO would have to pay that before they can appeal it or have it offset against the judgment when NEWCO has stated that they have not even traded in Belize. So how can you actually have one tax assessment, let alone sixty-eight on a company that is demonstratively not traded?”


Originally Posted By: Channel5
Lord Ashcroft reviews P.M.’s stimulus plan

Earlier in the newscast we reported on developments in the Belize Bank and NEWCO. And in the no holds barred interview Lord Ashcroft also had his thoughts on the Prime Minister’s stimulus plan. Here is what he had to say…

Lord Michael Ashcroft

“To put it in its simplest sense, a stimulus is meant to either keep the economy going, rather than having it contract. There are two ways in which that can be done: either by government spending more, especially on things like infrastructure to create jobs to keep the wagon moving and secondly, is tax cuts which is to encourage the consumers and others to spend more in order that businesses are able to stay in business producing goods and services for people to buy. The opposite of that is that people don’t have the money to spend, government either tries to increase taxes, which makes it worse and the government stops infrastructure projects, which then loses jobs and the combined effect is to drive the economy of the country down. It is regarded as the Keynesian theory. Belize basically has to fend a recession the old fashioned way, the brutal way. It has to stand in the face of the hurricane because there are no funds to be able to do a stimulus package, for example, the so-called stimulus package announced by the government was neither fish nor foul. It was a mixture of old loans, loans to be and dressed up a bit like an ugly woman with plenty of make up. I don’t mean that in a derogatory sense. So we can’t do that, we have budget deficits which, in a recession, you shouldn’t be taxing your people out of existence because you need to stimulate your economy. So I think Belize is going to be faced with a very difficult time over the next year or two.”

For more on the interview and his take on other burning issues including financial contributions from a foreign government and strategic voting, you can log on to Open Your Eyes on the Channel Five website www.channel5belize.com.

Live and let live

#324915 - 02/22/09 05:45 PM Re: Belize Bank to become a more Traditional Bank [Re: Short]
Peter Jones Offline
Isn't it about time the GoB nationalised those of Ashcroft's enterprises that are critical to the development and future of the country? He is in business for one purpose only - to maximise his personal income - and hang anyone who gets in his way. His attitude and greed is holding this country back.


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