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Today’s sitting of the House of Representatives saw the introduction of a bill to facilitate the transactions between the Belize First Caribbean International Bank (Barbados) and Heritage Bank, although the Prime Minister has yet to set a commencement date for such transactions. The bill for an act to provide for the vesting in Heritage Bank Limited of the business in Belize First Caribbean international Bank (Barbados) Limited should provide for the easy transfer of assets said the Prime Minister Dean Barrow.

Screen_Shot_2015-09-15_at_8.27.15_PMHonorable Dean Barrow – Prime Minister of Belize

“This is in order to provide for the easy completion of the transfer of the First Caribbean International Bank Limited business in Belize to Heritage bank, as I said publicly yesterday and a member already had discovered from reading the provisions of the Bill and the idea is to pass this but not to appoint a commencement date until a number of things would have happened including we hope and believe the settlement of outstanding matters between the management of First Caribbean and the Staff of first Caribbean, this Bill has the recommendation of the Cabinet.”

The Prime Minister says that among the matters for settlement is the issue of First Caribbean’s staff. As he rose to debate the issue, Opposition leader Francis Fonseca stressed his concern over the sixty persons who may be losing their jobs.

Honorable Francis Fonseca – Leader of the Opposition PUP

“These are not after all ordinary circumstances, First Caribbean International Bank closing its doors is serious business and it impacts a lot of people not the least of which are the employees, those who work there, their families, it is our understanding that there are some sixty employees who, to use their words find themselves in limbo, they find themselves growing uncertainty about their current status and their futures.”

Fonseca proceeded to stress that the Christain Workers’ Union, in representation of the workers have written to the Prime Minister, the Labor Commissioners and even the Governor of the Central Bank but have not received any favorable response. The Governor of the Central Bank has reportedly responded stating simply that he had no advise for the workers.

Honorable Francis Fonseca – Leader of the Opposition PUP

“No positive response at all which we find it to be very shameful, we are not at all letting Mr. speaker as I said FCIB international off the hook we expect as I said earlier and we demand that they act responsibly and I believe they will in ensuring that they are employees many of who Mr. speaker have served the bank loyally for many, many years.  We certainly want undertaking from the minister of finance and I know that the Prime Minister said that there will not be a commencement date for this Bill but we certainly want to go beyond that we want to make sure that there is an undertaking by the Prime Minister of finance that these employees will be assured a fair and reasonable exit strategy before we pass this Bill because we certainly won’t get an opportunity to determine when the commencement date will be that is a matter sole for the Prime Minister.”

Honorable Dean Barrow – Prime Minister of Belize

“Given that that is all that is taking place here today, I suppose I understand the difficulties, the contortions of the leader of the opposition because what he wants to do is to try to make political capital out of this and so he says things that are internally inconsistent and contradictory for example he says, I want the government, the minister of finance to demand from First Caribbean International Bank that they will treat with the workers fairly then he turns right around and says but I know Glenn Smith to be an exceptional fellow and I have no doubt that they will treat with the workers fairly, so why you making the demand just so you can try to pass yourself off to the workers as some champion?”


But that is not all that the opposition leader is concerned about. Fonseca says there is something much worse in the exit of First Caribbean International Bank from Belize.

Honorable Francis Fonseca – Leader of the Opposition PUP

“These employees are losing their jobs because First Caribbean International Bank it closing its doors and leaving Belize that is the reality and the question is why? Mr. Speaker and the answer is loud and clear. Belize under this UDP government Mr. Speaker has become a risky place to do banking, risky place to do business period and an unprofitable place to do banking as well, First Caribbean International Bank, Mr. Speaker walked away from Belize because they were losing money, first of all you cannot argue with them, we are not making any money in Belize so that is what their directors and shareholders demand and the bottom line not making any money in Belize anymore and given the week Mr., Speaker fundamentals of the Belizean economy and the dim outlook for economic growth they simply wanted to waist no more time and they cut their losses and they walked away from Belize that is why these workers are in the position they are today and that is why we are here today with this Bill, this vesting Bill additionally Mr. speaker, Belize’s growing reputation and it is critically importance that is why we losing this correspondents banking relations, as violent, drug trafficking, money laundering country, human trafficking country, that is our international reputation those things and that growing reputation under this UDP government that has made it increasingly risky for international banks to do business her and this is the reality so we can’t support this Bill while these sixty workers and their families remain in the dark about their exit package we certainly expect and I expect that the bank will act in good faith I know the people involved and I certainly expect that from them but we have to place on record on this House today our absolute deep concerns about this matter.”

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