The Leader of the Opposition, John Briceno, vehemently opposed a loan application made by the Belize Airport Authority to the Social Security Board. The loan application is for $7 million dollars and is to repair the Caye Caulker municipal airstrip. Briceno shared the reasons why his party is opposed to the idea.
John Briceno – Leader of the Opposition: “We’re finding out that the Belize Airport Authority has already borrowed $16.5million dollars. They want to borrow another $7 million dollars. That will make it $23.5 million dollars and according to this report, this report is saying BAA is going to have major problems in making their loan payments. They’re pointing out that the BAA revenues, the projections that they are making, they are too optimistic. They made this, Investment Services Unit, made an analysis of the revenues collected from 2011 -2017. They found out that in the average of every dollar that they claim they are going to collect. They only collect $0.75 ,that is even after the rider’s fee; what they charge every passenger to ride a plane when they land in these areas. Airstrips have been increased by 165% even with that there not meeting their projections. I’d like to read three small sections where they’re making the point. The Belize Investment Service Unit of the Social Security Board. When we talk about the weaknesses of the loan they are saying “the debt service ratio does not support the ability to comfortably pay the loan.” and it worsened, it stressed scenarios. In effect, they’re saying if we take the word of Belize Airport Authority that they are going to get the revenues, that we know is going to be difficult for them to pay. But now if we do the stress test and follow by what they have actually been collecting which is less, then it becomes even worse the ability to pay. The next point I want to make when they talking about the investment that Social Security has it says “however ability to comfortably repay the increased sums is only marginally evident.” That’s when they’re talking about the increase in tourism. Based on the current projections the proposal is a risky investment. If pursued this proposal is expected to be subject to increase public scrutiny noting the board’s plans to increase contributions.”