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Despite severe economic conditions, Belize still has not requested an International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme

Posted: Thursday, March 4, 2021. 11:40 am CST.

By BBN Staff: Coming into office back in November 2020, Prime Minister John Briceno said that Belize’s economy was in deplorable condition due to the previous administration; however, to date, Belize has not enrolled in an International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme as suggested by the international body.

Reuters reports that the Government of Belize and the IMF are currently holding online talks as part of a routine review procedure and that the talks have become more significant since Moody’s rating agency warning that the country is heading into a default of its upcoming Superbond payment in May. 

“The virtual mission is expected to conclude next week and we will communicate at the end of the discussions. The authorities of Belize have not requested an IMF programme,” said IMF Mission Chief for Belize Jaime Guajardo in an emailed statement.

Reuters notes that Belize has not requested the programme, despite having a debt to GDP ratio of more than 120 percent and in spite of the fact that the country’s economy was in bad shape well before the COVID-19 pandemic hit back in 2020. Reuters also noted that Prime Minister Briceno’s vision to stimulate the economy would not bode well with an IMF programme.

Former Prime Minister Dean Barrow, back in May of 2020, said that enrolling in an IMF programme and the conditions that go with it, would be an unavoidable undertaking for whichever administration formed the Government fo Belize following the November 2020 elections.

“Ultimately, as part of our efforts at recovery, in my view, whoever comes next will more likely than not have to talk to the IMF. Who comes next will have to talk to the IFI’s generally. Who comes next will need assistance serious funding assistance.” Barrow said.  

Barrow said that those conditions would certainly include pension reform and retrenching of government workers to reduce the wage bill, in order to bring about the structural changes needed to see economic recovery.

 

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