Senator Criticizes Government’s Borrowing Strategy During Saudi Loan Debate
AS the debate on the Saud Loan continued, Senator Michael Peyrefitte criticized the Briceno Administration, saying that the government is borrowing blindly with no plan or strategy in place.
Michael Peyrefitte, Senator: “What is the plan? $77 million is the loan and government is contributing $3 million on top of that. For what? What is that $3 million for? It doesn’t say, Madam President. And we go back again, Madam President, to what is the plan? By when do you suspect that this will solve all of our problems, if you’re saying that this will solve all of our problems? When will we no longer need CFE? Will we still need CFE or we won’t need CFE anymore? And by when? What is the plan? What are you asking the Belizean people to expect after they will be borrowing over 150 million Belize dollars? What will they have to show for it? What guarantees do we have that BEL will buy it if they have not been consulted because we don’t see it here. When the Prime Minister was asked last week about this project, and this is why it’s difficult to support these things, something is signed on August 4, 2023 by our Prime Minister, the executing agency is his ministry. And a reporter asked the Prime Minister, when are they going to be constructed? And do you have any idea where to be constructed? And the Prime Minister turned into Scooby Doo right away. “Well, I don’t know.” And this is what he said. “I don’t know exactly where it is going to be constructed but we already signed. So the monies will be made available, and we want to start as soon as possible.” How will you start if you don’t even know where you’re gonna build it? You don’t even know where you will build this thing, which means there has been no planning before you signed this agreement. You don’t know where you’ll build it, you don’t know when you’ll build it, all you know is that money is there let us hurry borrow it. Once we have the money, we chase it and everything will just figure itself out. That is horrible planning. How you as the Prime Minister that signed this thing, your executing agency, you don’t know when or where this thing will be built ?”
Peyrefitte went on to allude to the government’s plan to play favorites when it comes to land acquisition which forms a part of the loan motion. Senator Eamon Courtenay rose to counter the opposition’s claim.
Michael Peyrefitte, Senator: “When you look closely Madam President there’s contingency in here for land acquisitions. Land acquisitions. You don’t know where you’ll build it but you already know you need to acquire land which means you do know where you will build it. The question is now who will own that land that the government will now have to acquire. Who ? Who will come up again on land acquisitions from this deal. Because it’s in there you know. You read it right ? Alright good.”
Eamon Courtenay, Minister of Immigration: “But Senator Peyrefitte came here this morning pretending that this is strange, that this is different and this is some PUP concoction. I used to laugh at what he used to say Madam President but I’m giving way to that laughter to sympathy. Sorry for him. On the question of land. He pretends that there is mischief afoot because the loan agreement provides for possible land acquisition. The fact of the matter is Madam President that the government has engaged the International Finance Corporation of Washington DC not of Riyadh Saudi Arabia, perhaps he’ll be comforted that because it comes from the states it’s okay. The IFC is about to complete a study to identify the locations in Belize best suited for the placement of the solar farms. So we have hired consultants to advise where best to put the farms and all the loan agreement provides for is that if the IFC says area x and it’s privately owned then we have to get into negotiations for land acquisition. That is what you call forward thinking Madam President.”
The loan motion from the Saudi Fund was ratified just after eleven o’clock this morning.