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Mar 27, 2018

Have We Met Commitments to Bondholders?

Eamon Courtenay

Next to speak was the People’s United Party Senate leader, Eamon Courtenay. Echoing Opposition Leader John Briceño’s presentation last week, he described the Budget as lifeless and lacking any meat or muscle to address Belize’s problems. But Courtenay zeroed in the late fiscal strategy paper which had not been prepared as of earlier this year. He predicted further supplementary budgets to come even as he noted the Government’s decision to add G.S.T. to its own purchases and contracts.


Eamon Courtenay, P.U.P. Senator

“One of the commitments made to the bondholders, in the March 2017 statutory instrument, was that the mid-year review was going to be presented; the Financial Secretary came and told us that it had not been prepared, and he promised us what is at the back of the budget speech. But the news in the Fiscal Transparency and Responsibility Regulations, Mr. President, is not good. The Fiscal Strategy Statement for 2018-2019 makes it clear, Mr. President, and this is what is important: there will be further tax increases in 2018 and 2019. And our analysis reveals, Mr. President, that during the course of this very fiscal year coming – 2018-19 – Government will have to come back to Parliament with additional measures in order to try to meet its expenditure. Its retreat from its wrong-headed proposal to impose G.S.T. on land clearing, crop dusting and harvesting will require further tax measures. And there is the very intriguing proposal, Mr. President, of Government now submitting its contracts, its imports, and its purchases, to G.S.T. And when you ask why, you find out two things: this is a disguised budget-cutting exercise, we are told. What is supposed to happen is that all Government departments will now pay the G.S.T., but then Ministry of Finance will not refund them for the G.S.T. they have paid and thereby cut the amount of money they have to spend. The net effect, however, according to the Ministry of Finance, is going to be negligible on the budget.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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