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Mar 27, 2017

Prime Minister Hails Standard and Poor’s Taking Belize Out of Default

Dean Barrow

After a marathon two days of discussion and recrimination, Prime Minister Dean Barrow wrapped up the House of Representatives’ debate on the General Revenue and Appropriation Bill just before eleven p.m. on Friday. He and his administration had been hammered mercilessly over the previous hours for various sins – from being uncaring for the plight of the poor to unnecessarily causing pain for the middle class to not being serious about real change in management of national affairs. In response, P.M. Barrow attacked Briceño’s mathematics and statistics in the case underlying the case he made that Belize had fallen backward under the U.D.P.’s administrations from the high points of the P.U.P.’s terms in office. Apart from the intervention on the matter of fees for consultants for the re-negotiation of the Superbond following Opposition Leader John Briceño’s response on Thursday, the Prime Minister had held his fire for the wrap-up. He opened with what appeared to be a major endorsement of the Government’s course on that debt from Standard and Poor’s rating agency, which lifted Belize out of default territory.

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“Today, you see, S and P in fact announced a new rating action with respect to Belize. On March twenty-third, 2017, S and P Global Ratings raised its long-term foreign currency rating on Belize to B minus from SD which is selective default; in addition, we raised the short-term foreign currency rating to B from D; at the same time, we raised the long-term local currency rating to B minus from CC and the short-term local currency rating to B from C. The outlook on the long-term local and foreign currency ratings is stable. (Applause) We also our ratings on the bond included in the sovereign debt exchange to B minus from D; finally, we raised our transfer and convertibility assessment from B minus from CC. In other words, in effect, Standard and Poor’s seems to be echoing the judgment pronounced by the Reporter with which I regaled you the last time: this restructuring is a brilliant coup on the part of the United Democratic Party.”

 

The standard of living argument, the Prime Minister said, failed to take into account inflation rates and placed too much reliance on what he called “artificial” growth that did not translate to real improvement in the lives of Belizeans. 

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