Prime Minister Dean Barrow called a press conference this evening in Belize City where he addressed the recent CCJ ruling. According to the Prime Minister, the US $78 million has long since been set aside and it will not increase the national debt.
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
“The money is money that we had long since set aside because we knew what the balance of the second payment would be. We set it aside in Belize dollars. We did in fact reserve a portion in US which accorded with our sense of what the liabilities were likely to be and that US amount is in fact deducted from the total payment that is due to Dunkeld and the trust and what I gave you are the balances after you make the deduction for the $20 million and $5 million respectively in US currency that we had put aside. But to pay the $15 million more or less to the trust and the $62 million more or less to Dunkeld Government then has to convert the Belize currency that it already has on hand; in other words this exercise will not in any sense increase the national debt, it will not affect the budget framework because we knew from the time we were doing the budget what the total payment outstanding to Ashcroft would be. The trick always was and remains to find the foreign exchange the make the US payments. Well we of course consulted with the Central Bank and the Governor is here and I can tell you that in fact, we will make the entirety of the foreign currency payments by the date given in the order of the court. What the court did was to say no interest is to run, because of certain actions on the part of Ashcroft Alliance; no costs are ordered again because of certain actions on the part of the Ashcroft Alliance but the court approved and upheld their quantum in terms of their calculation of the liabilities as certified by two accounting firms that the court said there was no reason to question. So what the court did was to say ‘look you pay on or before November 10th 2017 but you can, in fact, pay in installments.’ – this wasn’t expressly spelled out but when you read the order to ‘to the extent that full payment is not made on or before 10th November 2017 interest will run thereafter at 8.34% per annum compounded quarterly pursuant to paragraph 362 J of the Arbitration Tribunal’s final award.’ And if you don’ t when you are making your installment payments if you miss the interest then default interest on the unpaid interest would run at the rate of 6% per annum compounded monthly pursuant to a clause in the settlement agreement. The bottom line is that we are going to pay these people everything by November 10th and so there will be no question of this 8.34% running. Already an informal approach was made to us to talk about installment payments but that’s because then they would collect the interest from us. We will make one payment and be done with it and that is going to be an end to the saga in so far as paying off for the Nationalization of BTL is concerned.”