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Is description of Belize as “serial defaulter” on Superbond accurate?

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Posted: Tuesday, May 11, 2021. 10:31 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: Can Belize be classified as a “serial defaulter” on the Superbond and its other debts?

One bondholder representative, Carl Ross, seems to think so. Speaking to LOVE FM on Friday, he stated, “It’s a really bad [look] and each time the country defaults, it sets the country back in terms of its international reputation, and it also lengthens the period of time that the country needs to honor its obligations.”

The 2017 restructuring, Ross continued, offered Belize a long runway with approximately 12 years of interest payments followed by the soft bullet payments, but Belize has used the “excuses” of hurricanes and COVID-19 recovery to avoid its obligations, and the bondholders, he intimated, are tired of it.

Minister of State for Finance Christopher Coye admits it’s not an entirely unfair accusation, citing how long we have been taking to repay just the interest alone: “looking at the debt profile of Belize its certainly not commendable to see that we had a billion dollars in superbond debt back in 2008. And we have over a billion dollars in superbond debt in 2021. All that sound to me is that we’ve been paying interest for the last 12-13 years. Interest that we don’t get back. That’s gone. And we still owe in fact 1.1 billion dollars because we capitalized the interest last year. We owe 1.1 billion dollars.”

The question Belize needs to answer is do we keep to the same path, said Coye, and the answer is no: “It is important to underscore: we have to be responsible. I certainly don’t want our country to be cited as a serial defaulter, but it is what it is.”

Coye also responded to claims that the bondholders feel ignored as advisors on Belize’s affairs: “The bond holders are investors in this country and we do look at them as investors in this country, but we still have to give priority or rank in order of priority and when we rank in order of priority Belize comes first, not the investors.” 

He stated Belize is working on creating jobs and stimulating the local economy to generate income to repay all of our debts domestically and internationally, including the Superbond.

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