$800 million injected into National Bank of Belize to make home ownership easier
Eight hundred million Belize dollars – that is the hefty sum that is being injected into the National Bank of Belize. If you’re a Belizean, and you’re tired of paying rent, and wanting to own your own home, then you will find this story interesting. Access to finance, by many accounts, is perhaps one of the biggest reasons many Belizeans are unable to have a home to call their own. Yet, they pay their monthly or weekly rent to a landlord, when they could have been paying a mortgage of their own. For those persons who fall prey to the high cost in rent, there is a glimmer of hope as the National Bank of Belize signed an agreement last Friday to make monies accessible to low and middle income Belizeans who want to build their home. To add to that good news, the interest rates will be between three point five to four point five percent in interest. We hear more in this exclusive story by our Reporter Vejea Alvarez.
Vejea Alvarez, Love FM News: Becoming a homeowner may be every Belizean’s dream but making that dream a reality is proving to be next to impossible for many working class citizens who aren’t able to access financing from the bank. However the tide seems to be changing as a Belizean based company is partnering with the National Bank of Belize to construct ten thousand middle income homes within the next five years. The eight hundred million Belizean dollar project is being funded by Senda International and aims to have the first set of home built by September this year. The project titled “The Belizean Housing Project.” is being managed and implemented by JMCC Enterprises Limited. The organization’s representative Cheryl Westby explained that the purpose is to work with Belizeans to build Belize.
Cheryl Westby, Representative, JMCC Enterprises Limited: “The entire project is just to build homes and offer affordable housing to our middle income people. Like those are call centers, bank workers, people who can afford to pay rent, can afford a mortgage but it’s just like the prices here are ridiculous you’re paying $700-$800 in rent and you go get a mortgage it’s $1,200 per month that’s double your monthly rent so we’re making it where we can build these homes, actually provide affordable monthly payments and you get to choose your designs.”
Vejea Alvarez, Love FM News: A memorandum of understanding was signed last Friday between NBB and JMCC Enterprises Limited to develop a strategic implementation plan for the project. JMCC is being guided in this initiative and supported by MCC Capital and Tag Corporation. Sergio Baretto, Vice President of the Panamanian based company explained how the organization will be providing oversight.
Sergio Barreto, Vice President, MCC Capital and Tag Corp: “This is a signature. This is a memorandum of understanding where we take the first step to do the legal expenses, establish the businesses for the opening of a accounts to create the SPV in Europe to be able to transfer Euros to Belize and this was a very important step. We need a state bank and the National Bank of Belize will manage everything related to the mortgage or the mortgages of those that will buy and that was a priority for us.”
Vejea Alvarez, Love FM News: Through the MOU a business account for the project will be established at the NBB which will allow for funds to be transferred via the Central Bank. Agreements will also be established with all thirty one elected officials to assist in identifying suitable applicants however Westby explained that the bank will be issuing the mortgages at very low rates with few stringent requirements than usual.
Cheryl Westby, Representative, JMCC Enterprises Limited: “It’s gonna be from Corozal down to Toledo so anybody that wants a home and qualifies because you still have to go through your due diligence process with the bank, qualifies for the home, is able to get a home. We are project managers and the bank will be the ones issuing the mortgages.”
Vejea Alvarez, Love FM News: The overarching goal of the initiative is to provide affordable loans to persons who would not normally qualify for a mortgage at the various commercial banks. Barreto says that apart from providing jobs to hundreds of Belizeans the project will ensure thousands of working class citizens have a place to call home.
Sergio Barreto, Vice President, MCC Capital and Tag Corp: “There is a huge deficit but there is a real buying power and it really caught our interest. We will work with the funds as promoters. We will look for local businessmen that can develop the project, we will generate employment for the country but we will be the project managers of those projects.”
Vejea Alvarez, Love FM News: Sanda International, the funding agency, will be investing one hundred million dollars every year for the next four years until the project is completed. The first tranche of the funds is expected to be delivered in the next two weeks and applications will be opened in June.