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New decade, same Superbond

Posted: Monday, January 6, 2020. 6:57 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Of Belize’s more than $3.5 billion in debt, about a third – $1.053 billion as of the end of 2019 – is bundled together as the so-called “Superbond.”

Renegotiated a third time in 2016 and early 2017, the new note pays a coupon of four-point nine-three-seven-five percent, slightly below the current five percent and much lower than the six-point seven-six-seven percent rate under the prior version that was to have kicked in on August twentieth, 2016.

In addition, the bond’s final maturity is brought forward to 2034 from 2038, while the amortization schedule is changed to five annual installments starting in 2030, from the thirty-eight semi-annual payments that was scheduled to begin in 2019.

In dollar figures, Financial Secretary Joseph Waight said in 2016, the interest amounted to about $30 million due semi-annually. We have not been able to locate the figure the Government currently pays.

At the time of closure in 2017, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dean Barrow reiterated that his administration had procured significant savings in terms of cash flow over the following 12 years until the “soft bullet” payments of US$105 million start coming in 2029.

But Leader of the Opposition John Briceño cautioned that Belize will need to start saving right away rather than wait until the opportune time, as both parties traded blame for its existence.

And at the Budget Debate that year, former Prime Minister Said Musa listed a litany of projects he said had been completed with the funds: expansion of rural electrification and water systems and housing projects from Corozal to Toledo, which he said was the “monument” his party remains proud of.

 

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