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Belize government to launch national bank

Published:Thursday | May 2, 2013 | 5:00 AM
Dean Barrow, prime minister of Belize.

The Belize government is to launch a national bank that Prime Minister Dean Barrow said should place pressure on commercial banks to reduce lending rates to consumers in the future.

Barrow said the National Bank of Belize Limited will have a start-up capital of BDZ$20 million (one Belize dollar = US$0.50 cents) that will come from PetroCaribe funds.

"The mission of the bank is principally to make residential mortgage and other consumer loans available to lower to middle income Belizeans and in particular to public officers and teachers at cheaper rates than are being offered in the market at this time," he told reporters.

Directly intervening

Barrow said the government is "directly intervening in the market to cut down costs in a sector that for too long has given little back to those on whose backs the profits are made in the first place."

He added that "the whole idea is to put pressure, downward pressure, on the lending rates of the commercial banks."

The prime minister said the National Bank expects to lend to consumers at an interest rate of approximately 6.5 per cent on average. He said that since the bulk of the monies will be loaned to teachers and public officers it was expected that there will be a minimum non-performing element in terms of those loans.

Barrow said the board of directors and a managing director have already been named and the idea is to turn the national bank into a full bore facility with all the services.

- CMC