The matter of the Blue Bonds was also brought before the Senate today. On this subject, the argument continues between both political parties on which is to be credited for the innovative debt reduction initiative. The Briceno Administration claims that the previous administration did not have the wherewithal to carry out the programme. While the opposition (UDP) is taking full credit for the initiative; either way the Blue Bonds negotiation continues full steam ahead. Here is a snippet of UDP’s Lead Senator Michael Peyrefitte on his contribution on the subject.
Senator Michael Peyrefitte: “We started a process that the PUP just happened to be in government when it was finished. If you think that we are going to say that this side of the House would go against anything that saves Belize that kind of commitment that we have to do in the future I would say this: Fine you were on third base when the triple was hit and you woke up. Do not do this country a disservice, do not do yourselves a disservice by telling the people of this country that you were the ones who came up with this and did this on your own. The previous government under the leadership of the Right Honorable Dean Barrow is to be given maximum credit for taking this process nine and a half steps of the way. Man, Senator Castillo when I want you to speak I’ll pinch you. Relax. So we say Madam President that indeed today is a good day for Belize. Indeed we are going to get some relief from our international commitments financially but make no mistake about it Madam President this bond is because of an initiative by the United Democratic Party and we’re glad to see that this was such a good deal that not even the PUP could have messed this up.”
Giving credence to the Briceno administration’s argument over the Blue Bonds Conservation Programme was Senator Christopher Coye. According to Coye, the UDP is right that the initiative was first brought to the previous administration. What he added, however, was that the entire offer failed to launch.
Senator Christopher Coye: “The past administration had the opportunity to solve this purple bond and for those thirteen years they didn’t. But you know what they did ? In thirteen years over seven hundred and thirty million dollars in interest was paid on this superbond. I think Senator said we did that well you did that. Seven hundred and thirty million. I think that’s important to have that resonate because we didn’t get anything for that seven hundred and thirty million. So this past administration did nothing to solve the problem and did everything to cost us seven hundred and thirty million dollars. Whether it’s a blue bond, Blu bond, red bond I agree with Senator Salas this is a blue bond a ‘blue’ bond. This is a bond for the people of Belize. This is a bond that gives us a chance to turn this economy around and to make life better. But in setting the record straight I think it’s important to clarify what those processes were that involved the negotiation of this blue bond. All this claim of credit for a red bond it is true that from 2010 this discussion came about, it was referred to then as the Reefs for Life program, it was brought about by the TNC themselves. They negotiated for four years and it wasn’t the government that pulled out. Out of I would supposed frustration the TNC themselves withdrew from that negotiation. So I’m not sure how a claim can be made that there was this process ongoing, they pulled out. In June 2020 after having gone through the Seychelles deal they decided to give another crack at it and so they did approach the government of the day but I have some personal knowledge of this and I recall specifically some of the same persons that the Senator referenced as being involved then informed me that the deal fell through by September so it was dead again then. It wasn’t in a process of negotiation and when the new administration came in it was a restart.”
Senator for Government Business, in his usual witty repertoire, responded to the opposition saying that they are trying extremely hard to rewrite history.
Senator Eamon Courtenay: “I said this morning that we would witness an attempt to rewrite history. True to form Senator Peyrefitte couldn’t help himself claimed credit that they, somebody landed on third base, somebody did this, somebody did that, it’s a red bond. One of the things that you learn in life and it’s a pity he’s still outside and not in here. One of the things you learn in life are facts are stubborn things. Senator Montejo, Senator Castillo, Senator Cal, Senator Coye, Senator Bennett, took their time to accurately reflect the historical record on this matter. But it was never complete so I will add a few more. 2008 when the man with the double side machete was elected to office the superbond stood at $526 million dollars United States currency. Write down the numbers five, two, six. Why you never bring Jules ? This is the kind of thing he needs to listen to. You heard what Senator Coye said ? Over those thirteen years $730 million Belize dollars in interest was paid. $730 million. So we start out with $526 million, spend $730 million Belize dollars in interest. Now I would assume that after paying three quarter billion dollars that the thing would be lesser. You know when they left office what the superbond was ? $552.9 million dollars United States currency. It gone from $526 to $552.9 million after they spent $730 million dollars Belize dollars in interest. I don’t know if you call that Reaganomics. I don’t know whether you call that Voodoo economics, I call it UDP Barrownomics. So when you come here and say this is a red bond and this is a blue bond and this is a green bond you are a disastrous baseball player. We have the better batters and catchers on this side of the baseball game.”
As we reported this week, the Government has gotten more than eighty seven percent of approval from the bondholders for a cash buyout of the Superbond. Within the next few weeks, Belize is expected to enter into the Blue Bonds Programme through The Nature Conservancy with the Suisse Bank Group of Switzerland.