June 18th 2016, 11:17 a.m. CST
By BBN Staff: With all the recent controversy surrounding the Guatemalan territorial claim and the incidents stemming from heightened tension and apparent strained diplomatic relations between the two countries, concern over the economy seems to have faded to the background. But a recent report from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) pointed to numerous deficiencies and made several suggestions on how the government could start improving the financial situation in Belize.
This government, however, has had a history of dismissing IMF and World Bank reports indicating that Belize’s economy is suffering.
“The economic outlook has worsened further since the 2015 Article IV Consultation and is subject to significant downside risks,” the IMF report stated.
The IMF projected that growth would decline further to 0.5 percent in 2016 and average less than 2 percent in the medium term. It warned that if GOB does not implement strict fiscal measures, rigid current spending would fuel high fiscal deficits and add to the already high public debt burden. Belize’s current debt is already over $2.3 billion and is projected to reach $3 billion by 2017.
Several government officials have been asked about the IMF report, including Financial Secretary Joseph Waight, who shrugged off the report saying GOB would have termed things differently.
And while it has become the norm for this government to dismiss reports such as the IMF’s latest report, it is surprising how little attention is being given to this issue. Some pundits have even suggested that the government is actually grateful for the current distraction of the Guatemalan claim.
Whether or not that is the case, the one thing that is for certain is that this issue needs to be given serious consideration by the government. There are many issues affecting the economy and GOB would be wise to take into consideration the suggestions from the IMF.
There may be even tougher times ahead as Belize braces for the impacts of a slowing economy.
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