Posted: Thursday, May 14, 2020. 12:56 pm CST.
By BBN Staff: Prime Minister Dean Barrow, during this morning’s virtual press conference, was reluctant to directly answer questions about a possible Government consideration to seek a deferral on its upcoming coupon payment on the commercial 2034 “Superbond” following a credit rating downgrade by Moody’s Investors Services this week raising alarm over GOB’s ability to manage the US $13 Million payment in August.
During the press conference, Barrow theorized in terms of economic savings, GOB could save up to $52 Million on deferred bond payments, which would equal a year’s worth of coupon payments on the bond. Asked specifically about Moody’s report that GOB may seek a deferral among other cost-cutting measures, Barrow said “Clearly, the writing is on the wall,” but explained he did not wish to pre-empt any announcement to bondholders via a public press conference.
The Prime Minister said in his last report on foreign exchange reserves, it was below the 3-month merchandise import benchmark which is approximately US $300 Million but he does not expect that foreign debt service obligations will be affected.
“We expect to get in a fair amount of money from the international financial institutions (IFI) and once those come, the quantum would be more than enough to offset the debt service obligations over the next fiscal year. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” Barrow said. He also noted that he did not expect any discussion with bondholders before July.
Barrow also explained that GOB is seeking some balance of payments with assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). “We’re not in the best possible place but we are managing to limp along and just from the foreign exchange point of view, we ought to be doing better once these flows from the IFIs start to come,” he said.
He also pointed to foreign currency payments owed to CFE in Mexico and Fortis for electricity provisions stating the importance of the tourism sector’s eventual rebound, which provides Belize’s largest foreign exchange earnings. The PM also said he doesn’t foresee any collapse or pressures that would cause the peg to slip anytime soon.
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