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World Bank Study: Belize could slash debt with targeted reforms

Posted: Thursday, February 29, 2024. 3:39 pm CST.

By Horace Palacio: Belize could significantly reduce its government debt to below 50% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by implementing reforms in key areas, according to a new World Bank study.

The World Bank’s Public Expenditure Review highlights the need for Belize to improve its resilience to external shocks, optimize spending in social programs, manage public sector wage growth, and prioritize climate change expenditures.

The report emphasizes that while Belize has made progress in fiscal management, challenges remain. Budget credibility and a high public sector wage bill continue to strain resources. The report recommends a Fiscal Responsibility Law to guide transparent debt reduction and the creation of an Independent Fiscal Council to provide unbiased projections.

To address the risks posed by climate change, the study suggests the establishment of a Natural Disaster Reserve Fund. This fund would streamline the financing of recovery efforts after floods and hurricanes.

“Belize must be prepared for the compounding challenges of high debt, tightening global financial conditions, and low growth rates,” said Lilia Burunciuc, World Bank Country Director for the Caribbean. “This review identifies steps toward maximizing value for money in important sectors such as health and education.”

Additional recommendations focus on improving the outcomes of education and health spending to ensure better results.

 

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