Posted: Sunday, April 11, 2021. 8:46 pm CST.
By Benjamin Flowers: Prime Minister John Briceño stressed in no uncertain terms during his budget speech last Friday that the former government administration led by Dean Barrow, is the main reason why the country is saddled with a monstrous debt of over $4 billion.
Briceño accused the Barrow administration of gross mismanagement of public funds and pointed specifically to the windfall from oil revenues and the Petro Caribe agreement with Venezuela.
“But the oil royalties and Petro Caribe did not quench their thirst: during their 3 terms in office, they borrowed over $3 billion cumulatively —a billion per term — leaving us with this $4.2 billion monster debt howling for repayment,” Briceño said.
The external debt includes $872 million to bilateral lenders, $476 mіllіоn of which was borrowed under the Petro Caribe Program with Venezuela; $318 mіllіоn of the debt is owed to the Republic of China on Taiwan and the small remainder to other friendly countries. Briceño noted that the country also owes $794 million to multilateral lenders, with around $288 mіllіоn owed to the Inter-American Development Bank, around $344 mіllіоn to the Caribbean Development Bank, $66.4 mіllіоn to the World Bank, and the balance institutions such as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) and the Еurореаn Іnvеѕtmеnt Ваnk (ЕІВ).
“$1.168 billion is owed to external commercial creditors, 97 percent of which represents the so-called Superbond, while the remaining $60 million is a domestic US dollar bond issued by the Central Bank of Belize in 2020,” Briceño added. “And finally, some $1.35 billion is owed to domestic creditors, the largest portion, about $561 million or 41 percent, is owed to the Central Bank of Belize while domestic banks are owed some 28 percent of Government’s local debt stock.”
He went on to say that, at present, two-thirds of Belize’s public debt, approximately $2.8 billion, represents external loans that must be repaid with foreign currency, with the average interest rate on external debt is 4.2 percent and on domestic debt is 2.7 percent.
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