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Government seeks to reassure Social Security participants of value of loan to special purpose vehicle

Posted: Tuesday, October 17, 2023. 11:46 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: Following Friday’s demonstration led by the United Democratic Party (UDP) at the National Assembly Building, objecting to the proposed use of Social Security funds to invest in the construction of a public administration campus next door to the Eleanor Hall Building, Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance Senator Christopher Coye met with reporters on Monday to present the Government’s side.

According to Minister of State Coye, the public/private partnership between the Government of Belize and the Social Security Board is a sound investment that solves several objectives: “We’re improving the provision of government services, modernizing the government services, physically, not just about digitization, physically coming in, you have better services. You can see what the facilities here look like and the intention is that it is somewhat mirrored, customized for the judicial complex, yes, but on the other building it would be similar to this. I think the public deserves better service from the government. That’s one. Second, look at the financial sector. The financial sector, what’s the cost of borrowing from the financial sector. For the public at large, you’re looking at eight, ten plus percent borrowing costs.”

Minister of State Coye added that the Government has largely abandoned Belize Infrastructure Limited (BIL), which was established under the Dean Barrow administration to manage the construction of various sporting and other facilities and in Belize City specifically, the Eleanor Hall Building and the Belize City Center. A “legacy entity” such as BIL is not “clean” to institutional investors such as banks, Coye argued, because of its latent liabilities. Social Security as the primary investor and the Government as a partner will make back millions on its original $30 million investment compared to paying about $2.5 million in rent for various offices around the City.

The total cost of the new buildings will be about $54.5 million for 120,000 square feet between them. The special purpose vehicle, Public Administration Campus (SPV) Limited, will be managed by a board of five directors, three from Social Security and two by the Government. According to the Prime Minister in Friday’s House session, other investors including Atlantic and Belize Banks, want in as well.

But so does the Opposition, whose leader Moses “Shyne” Barrow told reporters on Friday that the PAC-SPV Board should also have representation from the Opposition and social partners.

 

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