U.W.I. professor comments on debt & wage bill
The University of the West Indies’ Pro-Vice Chancellor for Planning, Professor Densil Williams, is in Belize in connection with activities for the installation of Dr. Luz Longsworth as Principal of the Open Campus of the U.W.I. Professor Williams is executive director of the Mona, Jamaica campus’ School of Business and Management with a concentration in International Business. News Five secured an interview with him where he discusses the regional view of budget management and commented on aspects of Belize’s economic indicators such as high external debt and the wage bill, which rose from three hundred and sixty seven million to four hundred and twenty-two million with the inclusion of the final tranche of salary adjustment for public officers and teachers. In a short preview, Professor Williams compares Belize’s situation with that of Jamaica, which is in a stand-by arrangement program with the International Monetary Fund. He finds that Belize will need to pull its reins tight in relation to both debt and wages.
Professor Densil Williams, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Planning), U.W.I.
“In the case of Belize, if you think about it, their debt to GDP ratio is not as high as that of Jamaica, but they are still getting into the very troubled territory, which is as I said, getting close to the one hundred percent mark. And I’ve noticed that Belize has run primary deficits, maybe for the last three years or so – which is actually worrying, because when you are running primary deficits that can also increase in a very significant way your overall debt to GDP ratio. But also worrying is that the fiscal outturn in Belize for the last few years or so has also been negative – mark you, negative not in a substantial way like Jamaica, but I recognize that this time around the projection is that your fiscal deficit is going to hover around three, four point six percent, which is getting into dangerous territory as well. You have to also do something about the public wage bill. What I’ve seen from the numbers I think your wage bill accounts for about roughly fifty-four percent of your recurrent revenue – that’s a lot, actually; in Jamaica’s case it’s roughly twenty-six percent. So you have to look at your wage bill in a more serious way.”
Be sure to tune in to Tuesday’s edition of Open Your Eyes to see the full interview with Professor Williams.