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Dec 30, 2020

PM Briceño says “Belize Bruk!”

Prime Minister John Briceño

Belize’s economy remains in dire straits, as the country’s productive sectors continue to grapple with the crippling effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.  It has been six weeks since the People’s United Party assumed office as the new Government of Belize and what it discovered upon taking over from the previous administration is that the public purse is all but empty.  The dismal announcement comes amid Prime Minister John Briceño’s maiden New Year’s address.  In the twelve-minute statement, the PM reflects on the challenges of the past twelve months, including the public health and economic impacts of the virulent disease.  Perhaps the centerpiece of what the prime minister shares is the fact that the previous administration was borrowing at a rate of one million dollars per day to remain afloat.  Along with that was a failure to meet its external debt obligations.  It’s a cheerless way to ring in a new year, but it is a reality that PM Briceño says Belizeans must face.


John Briceño, Prime Minister

“When we assumed office, we found the treasury empty. The former administration was borrowing one million dollars per day to meet expenses. Imagine – they had to borrow every single month to meet payroll. That is bankruptcy – pure and simple. Last August, the Barrow Administration failed to pay the U.S. thirteen million dollars super bond payment when it became due; instead they added this amount to the principal thereby increasing Belize’s foreign debt and deferring the inevitable. The rating agencies downgraded Belize yet again. The important take away is that due to the financial mismanagement by the Barrow administration they couldn’t make the payment and Belize was financially embarrassed on the world stage. As a result of COVID-19, the Barrow Administration borrowed more than two hundred million dollars in 2020. The Belizean economy was in recession before COVID-19 gripped us. The situation worsened in the second, third and fourth quarters and we estimate that the Belizean economy will shrink by fifteen percent in 2020. The overall fiscal deficit is no is now in excess of five hundred million dollars or twelve percent of GDP. And our debt to GDP will increase to a hundred and thirty-three percent. The acceptable standard is sixty percent. While economist who analyze and keep track of these statistics will be alarmed by these figures – they tell a simple tale to all – Belize bruk!”

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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