Posted: Thursday, June 24, 2021. 1:58 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: Belize is ready to negotiate with holders of our 2034 Bonds, alias “the Superbond,” after they granted an extended grace period last week up to September, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance John Briceño told us today.
Belize is seeking a reduction in the principal payments of the Superbond, totaling more than $1.1 billion after payments last year were deferred due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Now we start the actual negotiations, and we are very optimistic, quite hopeful that we will be able to restructure the Superbond and save a large amount of money for the Belizean people,” Briceno said.
On the related matter of an International Monetary Fund (IMF) program, he reiterated that Belize would not join such a program, but that the Fund is willing to work with us: “… the history that we have with the IMF is not a good one, so obviously there was a lot of concerns whether we would have the discipline to carry though. But they told us from early that if we can hold on to what we said we are going to do we would be able to get out of this difficult situation. When they saw how we manage and handle the consultations with the unions, setting up the budget, setting up the renegotiations of the superbond, I think they saw that we are serious that we are determined and that we are focus in what we want to do, is to be able to fix the Belizean economy to put Belize in a sustainable path, to address the issue of the debt and address the issue of poverty and the economy and to create opportunities for everyone.”
However, “at this moment,” the P.M. said, there is no talk of removing items from the zero-rated list for General Sales Tax (GST) or adding additional taxes.
“What we are looking at is trying to address what is in front of us. The whole issue of how we can get the economy going, how we can collect the taxes we should be collecting. And once we address those issues, I believe we are going to be fine. But only time will tell as to what exactly needs to be done. Right now, we have set our targets and we believe we can reach our targets if everybody does their part.”
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