Last week Wednesday the Caribbean Court of Justice ordered the Government of Belize to pay the second and final payment of $78 million US dollars to the Ashcroft Alliance within ten days. That deadline is this Friday, and today, Financial Secretary Joseph Waight told reporters that the payment may possibly be made tomorrow. As we have reported, that final payment settles the full compensation for government’s acquisition of BTL. The money will come from Belize’s foreign reserves and Waight says it amounts to, more or less, a quarter of it.
Joseph Waight – Financial Secretary: “It will reduce the reserves by about 20%-25%, remaining after that will be about three months of import cover which is fairly comfortable. Reserves are built over time generally from surpluses between your exports and imports. It will take time to rebuild but it is in a positive direction because of the balance of payments in equilibrium. Some months you’re in some months you’re out but its largely, over the period of time the current account of the balance of payments as its called that is the trade account is largely positive and it will over time, it will take some time and we hope that production remains and prices remain and we have no natural disasters but we don’t use the reserves for day to day financing of our trade activity. The reserves are reserves.”
Waight says that while the payment takes a chunk of the country’s reserves the impact is not going to be great.
Joseph Waight – Financial Secretary: “The balance remaining in the bank will be lower by $78 million that will not create any shortage of pressure on importers wanting to purchase foreign exchange for the imports because the system is largely in equilibrium and they get that from their commercial banks in any event, not from the Central Bank.”
The first half of the overall settlement was paid last year. For the second payment, the CCJ ordered the Government of Belize to pay the Ashcroft Alliance through its companies, Dunkeld 62 million 849 thousand 799 US dollars. The government will also pay the Employees Trust another 15 million 314 thousand US dollars. That adds up to just over 78 million US dollars. Waight said that depending on several factors, such as consistency in the export and tourism sectors, natural disasters, and oil prices, it would take about two years before the reserves are replenished.