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Nov 15, 2016

Superbond 3.0 is All U.D.P. Legacy, Says P.U.P.

Mark Espat

Prime Minister Dean Barrow; Financial Secretary Joseph Waight, and Economic Ambassador Mark Espat returned from New York City over the weekend having laid the groundwork for the possible negotiations for restructuring the multi-billion dollar debt package, following two previous restructurings in a decade. The three-man team met with Citigroup Global Markets Incorporated and Cleary Gottlieb Steen and Hamilton seeking an adjustment of the terms and conditions of the present agreement with bondholders on the billion dollar Superbond.  Government is hoping to reduce payments and increase the lifespan of the bond beyond 2038. 

Carla Barnett

The next payment is due in February 2017 and government wants a committee of bondholders to lower rates. But does Belize have a strong enough financial base to withstand the continued pain? Leader of the Opposition People’s United Party John Briceño weighed in today, calling the plans of the Government a scramble to right a series of broken promises to both the nation and its creditors, and he cast shade on former rival Espat and former Financial Secretary turned Minister of State for Finance Doctor Carla Barnett for their mishandling of this rollercoaster economic adventure.

 

John Briceño

John Briceño, P.U.P. Leader

“When he met with the bondholders, obviously he sugar-coated, you know, the U.D.P.’s incompetence and ability to manage the economy. He managed to get these concessions from the bondholders by making certain promises: one, that they were going to reduce debt [to] sixty percent of G.D.P. by 2017. Today we find out that our debt is at eighty-one percent of G.D.P. He promised that there was going to be fiscal consolidation, and that they were going to better manage the deficits of the Government; today we find out that every year our deficits continue to go up, and that on our last report, the Government pointed that they had a deficit of eight percent of G.D.P. All of these promises were made to the bondholders, and he failed miserably on all of these promises. What is curious, I guess, is that when you look at the people who are behind these negotiations; in 2005 [and] 2006, it was Carla Barnett, and Mark Espat. In 2012 and 2013, it was Carla Barnett and Mark Espat. And he we are in 2016, and who is behind these negotiations? Carla Barnett, and Mark Espat. We know that there are huge fees, in the millions of dollars, to be collected. As what the Prime Minister used to love quoting his friend, Lord Michael Ashcroft, when he was talking about “retirement for the boys.” This negotiation is a retirement for privileged U.D.P. boys.”

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