Speaking on the adjournment of today’s House of Representatives meeting, Caribbean Shores Area Representative Kareem Musa addressed the problems faced by the de-risking of Belizean banks.
“Debilitating to the point where it is no longer possible to do business and I am speaking Mr. Speaker in particular to the purchase of goods and services from the United States and elsewhere. I’m speaking to the use of credit cards, I’m speaking about remittances that come home to our Belizean families from abroad. That is the effect it has had on our economy, a terrible effect and we need Mr. Speaker for this issue to be addressed not only in Belize but on the world stage. On the world stage we need to lobby Mr. Speaker because no doubt there has been a curtailing of trade relations and some economists have gone even further to say that there has been a barrier to trade in our region and it totally affects small open economies like Belize. I know Mr. Speaker that the Prime Minister earlier this year assumed chairmanship of CARICOM. I believe that would be a good starting point as Chairman of Caricom to lobby with the Caribbean Community because it’s not only affecting Belize but all over the region so there has to be this lobbying effort on the world stage, not only in the Caribbean but taking it also Mr. Speaker to the WTO (World Trade Organization)to make it an issue, to make it a development issue Mr. Speaker because in truth and in fact we can see where if we do not curtail the issue now there will be a recolonization of our economy, we’re be completely dependent on the World Super Powers Mr. Speaker and that is not where we want to take our Belizean economy. We want to be self-determined. We want to be able to have our own economy Mr. Speaker.”
Prime Minister Dean Barrow responded by saying they know the seriousness of the problem and have been working to address it. He said that he will be leading a delegation this weekend to the United States.
“We have confirmed meetings already with the head of the FDIC, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, because that is the agency that relates the state banks including a bank called Whitney Bank out of the state of Louisiana, use to be in Belize some time ago which is interested in pursuing correspondent banking relationships with our banks and I also have confirmed a meeting with the head of the Office of the Controller of Currency. That is the regulator for the small community banks such as the one that is now looking after credit card settlements for Belize Bank and Heritage and Choice banks so again member for Caribbean Shores when you say there is a problem with credit cards, there is no problem with credit cards. There may be in the future if that at small bank in New York doing the settlements currently decides to pull out and there are fears that that might happen but that is why I’m going to Washington so Mr. Speaker, while it is true that ultimately we can’t guarantee the successful outcome of my visit to the United States, we are at least make claim that we are doing everything that we can possibly do and we can make claim that we will continue to do everything that we can possibly do until we find a solution to the problem.”
The delegation will include the Governor of the Central Bank, the Financial Secretary, Ambassador Mark Espat and Ambassador to the United States, Pat Andrews.