Belize and the IDB – Words from the PM 2

Dean Barrow says IDB President’s crass act of cowardice

There is a major fallout with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and this morning, Prime Minister Dean Barrow threw the IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno under the bus even though they have had a cozy relationship over the years. For background, in August, the PM said he was leaning on the IDB to obtain financing in the form of Policy Based Loans (PBL) and had taken to the House a number of legislative issues to secure the PBL as part of the restructuring of the US five hundred and forty-four million dollar superbond. But that’s not going to happen so the PM’s temperature shot up this morning. Firstly, he disclosed that the US Treasury had blocked the loan request and because Moreno had not taken it to the Board, that constituted a “crass act of cowardice.”

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“The IDB, certainly at the level of the staff, was extremely helpful, extremely supportive and at the level of the executive director on the board into whose constituency Belize falls, a lady from Costa Rica called Carmen Maria Madris. I had met with [IDB President Luis Alberto] Moreno and I understood from then that he was not as committed as his staffers seemed to be but I thought that we had been able to persuade him. Ultimately it was that the U.S. Treasury indicated clearly to Moreno and directly that it would not support the IDB agreeing to the guarantee. It then became a matter of our saying to Moreno, “we’ll take it to the board nonetheless.” I didn’t understand the IDB to be a branch of the U.S Treasury. Moreno, for his own reasons, ultimately did not do that. He called me to say that because of the U.S. Treasury opposition it was off. So that’s where things stood.”

English: Luis A. Moreno, Colombian diplomat an...

IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno

Jules Vasquez, 7 News
“How would you characterize the conservative decision that he made?”

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“Well I told him that I thought it amounted to a failure of nerve on his part. I was very, very clear. I said that Belize is not disappointed with the decision, it is disgusted and that the responsibility was his and his alone. I was sure to tell him that his position was in stark contrast to the tremendous amount of work that his staff had done, the tremendous amount of goodwill that we had generated at the level of the staff and at the level of, certainly, the borrowing member countries of the IDB board. So, he made the ultimate decision and he must bear the ultimate brunt of Belize’s ire. I don’t know that that will put us anywhere but it’s good to have these things on record and I sure as hell placed it on record.”

Jules Vasquez

“On this show, just now you said it was a “crass act of cowardice.”

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“I wouldn’t resile from that at all. I’m sure that if I did not tell him, if I did not employ that precise terminology when I spoke to him it was something very close. So I’m not saying anything behind his back, I’ve said this to him directly on the phone.”

For perspective, the largest of forty eight shareholders, the US has a thirty percent share in the IDB. The last time the US blocked a request was in the case of Argentina. At the time the US said that, “Given Argentina’s attitude contrary to honor debts with creditors and to work with international institutions, United States will vote against extending World Bank and Inter American Development Bank credits to that country.”

No IDB Policy based loans halts some government initiatives

I had met with Moreno and I understood from then that he was not as committed as his staffers seemed to be but I thought that we had been able to persuade him.  Ultimately it was that the U.S. Treasury indicated clearly to Moreno and directly that it would not support the IDB agreeing to the guarantee.  …  I didn’t understand the IDB to be a branch of the U.S Treasury.  …  He called me to say that because of the U.S. Treasury opposition it was off.

According to the PM, the legislative changes that were presented to the House have not been passed and some will come to a complete halt. But we note that the June Indicative Scenarios by the Ministry of Finance refers to policy measures such as the hotel tax and VAT as having been passed in the House but would come into effect in 2013. Still yet, the PM would not ease off Moreno.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“I am more upset with Moreno because he had, I thought, the support at his board to push this thing through, notwithstanding U.S. Treasury’s objection. But even there it’s what it is. I’m not going to say the bank, Belize will withdraw from the IDB. We have to, we have to be mature. It’s not in our interest not to continue our relationship with the IDB. So, having said what I have said, having made it plain that Belize has the dignity and the sovereign courage to speak truth to power, we move on. And the fact is that ultimately the debt restructuring is a matter for us and the bondholders and the negotiations continue. I’ve indicated that I believe we will get a settlement and I believe, furthermore, that we are fairly close to a settlement.”

English: Prime Minister of Belize Dean Barrow ...

Prime Minister of Belize Dean Barrow

Jules Vasquez, 7 News

“Now the funny part is that we have already done the legislative, our legislative part of earning a policy-based loan from the IDB, in terms of reconfiguring the hotel tax.”

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“We haven’t you know.”

Jules Vasquez

“Well you passed the law, haven’t you?”

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“No, we didn’t pass that law.”

Jules Vasquez

“But you presented it to the House.”

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“Yes, but we never [passed it.]”

Jules Vasquez

“So now all those things which were [already in the pipeline]…”

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“Ain’t going to be done. But there are other things that we did do such as reduce the number of items on the restricted list, the number of imports and that’s sort of thing we would have had to do in any case.”

P.M. won’t share podium with IDB President

The Prime Minister’s ire remained squarely on Moreno; the warm relationship now turned to one of heated friction. The PM made it clear that he will not share a podium with the IDB president in the interim. But where do the consequences of the fall-out leave Belize?

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“Moreno did suggest that the policy-based loan could still be available but post restructuring and I’ve indicated [that] “wi noh wah cut off wi nose fu spite wih face.” I’ve said to you earlier that I’ve put on record how I feel, at the same time Moreno having failed us, his staff I have to insist, including the representative here, rose magnificently to the challenge. There’s no doubt but that they were batting for Belize so we can’t throw out the baby with the bathwater although Moreno is no baby. So, so no man, having placed on records our disgust I intend to move on. I won’t be sharing any podium with Moreno anytime soon, but Lord, institutionally the relations can, should and will continue.”

According to the PM, the first round of meetings with the Creditor’s Committee will be held after the US thanksgiving holiday. So for now, the US has blocked a loan request and the Government is publicly and personally chastising the IDB president.

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2 thoughts on “Belize and the IDB – Words from the PM

  • Paco Smith.

    How quickly “confidence” can turn to confusion…

    I’m no fan of the IDB but we must be real. No matter what, the IDB owes Belize nothing and to think they would be willing to acquiesce and divert from their modus operandi is either fool-hearty or maybe simply the product of overconfidence.

    In all, the PUPD have placed our nation in a whole heap of excrement and we, the people, are left holding the bag.

    Belizeans, wise up because it is clear as day, that business as usual, within Belize’s political economy has proven detrimental to our nation.

    Jus rememba…

    “Big fish eena Belize wata, dah jus pupsi, if dat, when deh jump eena di sea.”

    • Cayo Buay

      Completely agree Paco.

      Rhenae Nunez made a wonderful post the other day that plays into this.
      “Success is the important thing. Propaganda is not a matter for average minds, but rather a matter for practitioners. It is not supposed to be lovely or theoretically correct. I do not care if I give wonderful, aesthetically elegant speeches, or speak so that women cry. The point of a political speech is to persuade people of what we think right. I speak differently in the provinces than I do in Berlin, and when I speak in Bayreuth, I say different things than I say in the Pharus Hall. That is a matter of practice, not of theory. We do not want to be a movement of a few straw brains, but rather a movement that can conquer the broad masses. Propaganda should be popular, not intellectually pleasing. It is not the task of propaganda to discover intellectual truths.”
      ― Joseph Goebbels