There's been a lot of controversy over the proposed 3.5 million dollar loan from the Social Security Board to the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, a public notice of which has been printed in the papers as required. Many believe that SSB is lending out workers' money for a frivolous project, and there is the concern that Hol Chan - which is an NGO, not a business - may not even be able to pay it back.

But CEO of SSB, Deborah Ruiz says they believe How Chan does have repayability, she explained why.

Deborah Ruiz, CEO, Social Security
"You know we are always looking for loan opportunities and Hol Chan did approach us in terms of getting a 3.5 millions dollars, as you know the sargassum is a problem for the waterfront areas especially the cayes in the height of tourist season so their proposal and based on their research the sargassum barriers are not foolproof because it depends on the monitoring of it but if I recall correctly, they will be putting some barriers in the three main channels that hopefully will direct and minimize the impact on the shoreline so yes that is there. They have in fact approached us in terms of their numbers, the viability you know is tied to the tourism numbers and we have seen a rebound, it's not back to where it was pre COVID but the numbers have significantly increased based, if I recall correctly, the BTB numbers indicate that at least up to 173,000 visitors and based on the numbers that we see, we crunched the numbers, repayability is there, they have the collateral, they did have an issue in terms of recent pass but those numbers and internal controls have been put in place to our satisfaction that we feel it's a reasonable investment to make and it certainly was higher than what we would get if we leave our money in the bank. 6.75% I believe is the rate that was agreed."

And she noted re-payability isn't the problem, but more so finding viable projects to invest more of their money into.

Deborah Ruiz, CEO, Social Security
"In terms of the 99%, that is terms of repayability that the loans are in fact being paid on a monthly basis. What is a challenge for us is finding new investment. The investments are performing but we need new investments in order to sustain the long term funds. We are not where we need to be because of the inflation, if we are getting our money, we are very liquid unfortunately I must say because we need viable investments, we have over 100 million dollars to invest so we are seriously looking for projects, trying to see how we can make this money work better for us, sitting in the bank earning 2 and a half percent isn't doing us any good so we need to invest that money in order to turn it around and that is where we're falling short."

Channel 7