Final Extension for Superbond; P.U.P. Questions Wisdom of Arrangement
This evening, it was announced that there is another, possibly final, extension of the Consent Solicitation Offer for the Belize U.S. Dollar Bonds due 2038 or the more common name Superbond. This time the extension is for five days until Wednesday March fifteenth, up to five in the evening New York time and three p.m. in Belize due to the start of daylight savings. The Creditor Committee has approved the revised Consent Solicitation Statement issued on March second and according to Financial Secretary Joseph Waight, “a large number of positive responses to the revised Consent Solicitation have already come in and … this extension is merely to give a bit more time for the process to be completed.” The Government this week touted massive savings on interest and principal amount to twenty-five percent of net present value, but on the other side of the fence, the Opposition believes Belize has not saved anything at all. At his press conference on Thursday, P.U.P. and Opposition Leader John Briceño said he was confident that the P.U.P. will form the next Government of Belize as early as 2020, when Belize would have been one full year into the semi-annual payments of interest and principal that would have started in 2019 under the current arrangements. But not having to worry about those soft bullets until 2030 is hardly a balm to Briceño, who says that Belize should not consider putting off those payments any longer than necessary. He also called on the Prime Minister to be truthful about Belize’s arrangements with the I.M.F., who may have to intervene if the two-percent fiscal surplus target is not met.
John Briceño, P.U.P. Leader
“If I want to be selfish about it, I would say yes. But if you want to look at the interest of the country, you need to wonder what is it that you have to do, because remember, in 2030, a hundred and five million U.S. dollars will nor magically appear for the next five years after that. We have to start from now to save money; we have to come up with a sinking fund to be able to pay off that loan when the time comes. Now, the Prime Minister again is saying that when the time comes we can re-negotiate again; that is being reckless. We are wasting hundreds of millions of dollars when we could be paying that loan and using that other money to bring real development in our country. A lot of Belizeans [who] know what they are talking about that they’re going, ‘Basically we re-finance and re-finance and re-finance and just wasting hundreds of millions of dollars’ – we have to pay the loan. That is what we have to do. Are you saying that the government or the Prime Minister has deliberately lied to the IMF and deliberately lied to the Belizean nation? And that when a prime minister deliberately lies to these international organizations, that the negative effect that it can have on a country is in calculable. Because of the thuggish behavior of the Prime Minister since he got into government in 2008, it has affected our economy in a negative way – that people are afraid to come and invest in Belize, because they don’t know what kind of government or what kind of prime minister they are going to be meeting. So if the Prime Minister is going to be boasting that he ‘pull a quick one’ on the I.M.F., then I think that’s a sad day for Belize.”