BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Sept. 9, 2021– During an interview last Wednesday following the sitting of the Senate, Senator and Minister of State in the Minister of Finance, Hon. Christopher Coye, gave the media a snapshot of the benefits gained through the current administration’s renegotiation of the Maya Forest Trust deal with the Nature Conservancy (TNC) — an arrangement that had initially been entered into by the preceding Barrow administration.
In October of 2020, the then Government of Belize, a UDP administration, had signed off on an agreement with TNC and a group called Rewild.
According to Senator Coye, the original deal exempted the organization from paying stamp duty and land taxes on the acres of land being allotted to it for preservation.
The agreement also would have given the conservation agencies which entered the agreement the ownership rights for the carbon credits associated with the preserved lands, which would have resulted in a huge loss for the government.
The new supplementary agreement renegotiated by the PUP administration was signed by the parties in the first week of September, and according to Minister Coye, the renegotiated terms are set to yield upward of 65 million dollars for the people and the Government of Belize.
He shared, “Whereas under the prior arrangement there would have been no land taxes payable for fifty years, under the renegotiated terms, land taxes would be paid every year — roughly around $365,000 a year. Over the fifty-year period, that would amount to a little over 18.2 million dollars from the TNC. Similarly with ReWild, they would now be paying $42,000 a year over 50 years, that adds up to about 2.1 million dollars. In total, we will be getting land taxes of over 20 million dollars.”
Carbon credits are permits that allow companies to emit a certain amount of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases. These permits can be accessed from countries with significant forest cover that implement sound management practices which result in more carbon sequestered from the atmosphere — thus generating credits which are then sold to those companies seeking to offset the negative impact of their operations on the environment.
With the conservation of the huge tract of untouched Belizean forest in the Maya Forest Corridor and the plans for regeneration of depleted areas, the conservation efforts of TNC and Rewild are posed to generate substantial revenue through the sale of carbon credits.
Minister Coye stated, “Under the renegotiated terms we made it clear that the carbon credits were credits that were vested to the government of Belize by virtue of our Constitution and as a result, we had to go through a process for the transfer of those assets.”
He said that the government was able to negotiate a cap on the sums of the proceeds of sales of carbon credits from TNC and Rewild. Those environmental organizations will be able to keep all the revenue below those set caps, with the residual income going to the Government of Belize.
“In looking at the preliminary expectations on the sales of carbon proceeds, that net excess would be in or around 25 million dollars, could be more, but that is our preliminary estimates as to what now the Government will be able to determine and use,” Minister Coye said.
He added, “The TNC has also committed to work with the Government of Belize to secure 20 million dollars over 10 years for regenerative agriculture investments and climate resiliency initiatives separate and apart from that 45 million dollars, so we are looking at an overall benefit or gain by way of that renegotiation of 65 million dollars, if not more.”