The Prime Minister, in his Independence Day address, claims he has an Independence gift for indebted borrowers of DFC.
Hon. Dean Oliver Barrow- Prime Minister of Belize
“Perhaps then, this is the time to announce what I hope will be an annual feature: an Independence Day gift! As part of its debt relief to Belizeans, Government is arranging to forgive some $6.22M worth of DFC loans. These are principally mortgage loans but also include some on the education and productive sectors. For the most part, the loans foreclosed on by DFC and borrowers collateral see, so, there is no moral hazard here. But the sale of the collateral was not sufficient to liquidate the debt and the poor borrowers were still on the hook for the balance. Government will now step in so that the three hundred and sixty one persons that qualify under the program will no longer be hounded by those accursed lawyers and bill collectors for the remainder of what they have owed”.
The Development Finance Cooperation will be celebrating its 50th year of service this Friday.
Another topic addressed by the Prime Minister in his Independence Day speech is the illegal activities at the Chiquibol Forest and other bordering areas of the country.
Hon. Dean Oliver Barrow- Prime Minister of Belize
“On the question of territorial integrity, we are very much determined to contain and even reverse the illegal incursions into the Chiquibul Forest, its National Park and other areas. These depredations have led waste far too much on our biosphere and that cannot be allowed to continue. Thus, Government is to start immediate construction of three new border monitoring outposts. The locations are to be identified by the Belize Defense Force in consultation with Friends for Conservation and Development; and the latter will assist as well, with implementation; enough cannot be said in praise of FCD: their awareness raising as well as operational efforts have been phenomenal and our cap now, by their international partnership with the Guatemalan NGO, Asociacion Balam and the FAO, the Food and Agriculture Organization. This international agreement is designed at getting some prevention and preservation action from the Guatemalan side of the border, which, of course, is the origin of the problem. Part of the plan on our side is to grow the Belize Defense Force as much as possible. And so, intake numbers will be increased to at least eighty persons with the next recruiting triage. And this step up will continue with every new compliment in order to improve overall BDF troop strength by at least one quarter over the next few years.
More Write Offs and $80 Million more for DFC
In his Independence Day address to the nation, Prime Minister Barrow announced that the Government of Belize will write off another $6.22 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.