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Taiwan provides financing to Belize, again

The Taiwanese Government has assisted Belize, yet again. This time, to the tune of 75 million US dollars. The loan commitment is part of the bilateral cooperation program between Belize and Taiwan, spanning to the year 2025. The motion was presented during today’s sitting of the House of Representatives. Members on both sides of the aisle had a lot to say. Here are some highlights. 

Moses “Shyne” Barrow, Leader of the Opposition: “I am very concerned when I see these monies coming in. You say to supplement the budget and you speak about it. Your speech was so ghastly boring that I totally missed it because I was asleep listening to whoever wrote that speech for you. But, again, Madam Speaker, the people of Belize need to see this PUP Government for what they are.”

John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize: “You know if somebody tells you something is boring. You know why it’s boring? Because they can’t understand it, you know? They can’t comprehend what you’re telling them and so I am offering the Leader of the Opposition, you know.” 

Valerie Woods, Speaker of the House: “Member!”

John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize: “Come to my office. Sit down and  will give you the ABC’s and 123’s so you could understand. We understand what we di talk about. Now this is the man.”

Valerie Woods, Speaker of the House: “Members. Members!” 

John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize: “This is the man. The same one.” 

Valerie Woods, Speaker of the House: “Members. I need to hear the member who is on his feet. Please remember the standing order.”

John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize: “This is the man that claimed that ih mek tens of millions of dollars yet ih bruk you know? Yet it bruk. Ih bruk. Trust mi, ih bruk and that’s why, and that’s why.”

[ Overlapping speech. ]

John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize: “Maybe cah ih bruk. Anyway.”

Patrick Faber, Collet Area Representative: “When you borrow money to fill these budget gaps and then you come back with these huge supplementary appropriations, you wonder what is going on. They have to be concerned even more, Madam Speaker, because why is it that you have to go and borrow these monies when in fact, according to the Prime Minister, everything is rolling smooth?” 

Henry Charles Usher, Fort George Area Representative: “If things were so rosy under the previous administration, how is it that the poverty level, when they had the halcyon days, the halcyon days of PetroCaribe and BNE oil and everything else, the halcyon days of that, poverty level in this country went from 40% to 52% and that was n 2018, Madam Speaker. That’s a 30% decrease Madam Speaker. This was before COVID, before inflation, before everything else. This was under a UDP administration.”

Tracy Panton, Area Representative for Albert: “Madam Speaker, when the UDP was borrowing a million dollars a day, fuel prices were less than $9 a gallon and so, Madam SPeaker, as this administration continues to borrow at alarming rates, I would like to urge the Prime Minister and his Cabinet to ensure that the money is used to serve the people.  Hope, Madam Speaker, that this accelerated funding from Taiwan will be used for the focal areas that the Prime Minister mentioned in his budget presentation back at the beginning of this fiscal year. Food, Madam Speaker, particularly for those who are living on the margins, I heard the Member from Fort George, in a recent interview and also the Prime Minister, speak of these grocery bags that are being given to families living on the margins, Madam Speaker. Well, there are no grocery bags for the residents of Albert and none for the people living in Collet or Queen’s Square and so I urge the Prime Minister to remember, particularly, on the southside of Belize City where we see the crime rates escalating Madam Speaker, that we pay attention to the needs of the people as it relates to food, as it relates to shelter, as it relates to access to healthcare, as it relates to education, as it relates to the delivery of public services. The Prime Minister has spoken that this loan motion for $150,000,000 Belize, will be used for over a four year period. Just a gentle reminder, Prime Minister, that it is the job of the government to serve the people.” 

Henry Charles Usher, Fort George Area Representative: “There’s a difference between just having to borrow because you can’t pay your bills, like what happened under the previous administration, when there was talk about not being able to pay Mexico for light, when there was talk about not being able to pay salaries. I think when the Member from Collet was campaigning for leader, they asked him a question about will he look for retrenchment and he said well you have to look at everything. You forgot about that Member from Collet? You forgot about that?”

John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize: “You were not even paying your bills. Post office. Remember, Member from Cayo North? We were at a point of the International Post Office Organization fi shet down the service for Post Offices for Belize because you noh pay your bills! How much? More than four years unu noh pay unu bills. You know? Whichever one, they have a whole list of bills that you know unu mi hard pay and now we have to pay it. Yes, we were at the verge of an economic collapse. The economy shrunk by over 16%. We were the worst performance during the COVID years more than any of the other countries in this region. More than 16% thanks to the UDP government.”

The first disbursement is 42 million dollars this year and between 2023 and 2025, there will be three disbursements of 11 million dollars each. The repayment terms are 33 consecutive, semi-annual instalments of just over 2.2 million dollars plus a final payment, which is a little less than the instalments. Taiwan’s Export-Import Bank is the financial institution providing the funding.