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Feb 23, 2018

No Money No Deh! FinSec Tells It Like It Is

Joseph Waight

Is government broke? So broke that they may have to resort to issuing treasury bills just to pay salaries at the end of the month? Recent correspondence to C.E.O.s purportedly from the Financial Secretary Joseph Waight pointedly asks that each government ministry stop searching through their coffers for available funding and sending requests to the Ministry of Finance, as “no money no deh.” According to the correspondence, the country’s debt to gross domestic product ratio has reached one hundred percent – meaning Belize owes as much as it has produced. The correspondence continues, “If we continue on this path, we will certainly crash.” Last year’s budget figure for GDP was about three point six billion dollars. Both the Economist Intelligence Unit and Caribbean Development Bank project a modest increase, but the bottom-line is that just twelve days before a municipal election and two weeks before the 2018 Budget is read, the government appears to be scrambling to find monies to pay its most basic bills. That is not even considering the staggering interest on the Superbond, arbitral awards and U.H.S. debt among other things. The correspondence further illuminates comments made earlier this week by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education Patrick Faber about why it can’t afford the reported two point four million dollars in tuition for tertiary students, offered in exchange for votes in favor of the ruling party. 


Patrick Faber

Patrick Faber, Minister of Education [File: February 21st, 2018]

“In fact, because we’re closing the end of the financial year, yes we did a budget exercise, an exercise where we combed through the budget to see where monies were not spent within the ministry.  That does not mean, as we were reminded, that within the government’s coffers that those monies are there and so we made an attempt to ask the government to reprogram some of these monies, the Ministry of Finance, for the use of purchasing some very needed vehicles, for covering subsidies, about three hundred dollars worth of subsidies [per students] and to put some of that money into spending on the people, yes, in terms of scholarships and grants and so on.  There’s no crime in that, that is what we do on a daily basis.  The Ministry of Finance said to us that that money is not there.  In fact, so neither the spending on the vehicles or on, they gave us a little to cover the subsidy monies that were lacking and that is it.  So what we do is in the normal course of our work of helping people to pay these bills once they can’t afford them.”

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