The Central Bank Amendment Bill will empower the Central Bank of Belize to provide for emergency programs and facilities to assist during unusual and necessary economic circumstances.
It's an sharp change in policy allowing the regulator to operate within the commercial banking sphere and the Prime Minister explained the rationale when he introduced it:
Hon. John Briceno, Prime Minister
"What we want to do this time around is to give the central bank of Belize the opportunity that during extra ordinary times like now they can have access to money to be able to provide funding during difficult times like right now. We see a strange thing happening right now in the financial system; liquidity is increasing and you would believe that the interest rates would have gone down, but interest rates are going up and that's not going to help people that haven't been able to pay their loans. So, by making these changes then it will allow the central bank then to be able to make monies available, cheaper money to the business whose no fault of theirs in dire straits. So I want to make it clear, this is no money whereby you are friend of a friend of the minister or the government or anything and you could go and borrow money. It's not like that. It's just doing with companies that will produce foreign currency and jobs and that they can demonstrate that they were a viable company before Covid19 and that now through no fault of theirs, they are at the brink of bankruptcy. What we are going to do as a government, that we are going to put a 10 million dollars seed money from central government and put it in that fund with the central bank and hoping that the central bank can raise another 40 million dollars which then would come up with at least 50 million dollars that would be able to assist companies that help produce US dollars and jobs in agriculture, BPOs and tourism."
Hon. Patrick Faber, Opposition Leader
"Maybe the best way to put it is that the banking world is a game and you have players and referees. The regulator is the referee and regulator is watching what is going on, but when the referee gets in the game, if its football we are talking about and the regulator starts to kick the ball we have problems. When the referee starts to play we have difficulty and that is very layman's term is what this bill seeks to do and that's the concern that we would have."
That bill was passed into law today.