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May 10, 2021

G.O.B. Seeking Alternative Arrangements to Superbond Payment

Christopher Coye

Will Belize be able to make a scheduled seven-million-U.S.-dollar coupon payment to its international bondholder on time later this month?  That is looking more and more unlikely, particularly after the Government of Belize announced today that it will consult with holders of the nation’s so-called “Superbond” about “potential alternatives to punctual payment” of the next payment due on May twentieth.  Just what those alternatives to a late payment might be are not clear.  Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance Chris Coye told News Five he is not aware of the release on the Central Bank of Belize website.  He did, however, say Belize is still trying to get bondholders to consider Belize’s particular situation and confirmed the country is seeking a “haircut” in terms of debt relief.  He also addressed comments made by a representative of one of the bondholders, Carl Ross of Granthan Mayo Van Otterloo, about Belize’s international reputation and comments by Reuters’ news agency which called Belize a “serial defaulter.”  Right now, bondholders want Belize to follow an I.M.F. plan and Belize wants to go its own route to financial recovery.


Christopher Coye, Minister of State, Ministry of Finance

“But this is a process, and obviously, we are looking for relief. And if we are to get that relief that means that there will have to be a give. In any discussion or negotiation there will be a back and forth. It’s not just an acceptance of what we want and that is the end of it. We would like that, but this is entirely expected. Whether you want to stay we are in a stalemate or an impasse it depends what you are attributing it to. If it is that Mr. Ross is talking about, has been alluding to the under-performance, well there are reasons for that underperformance.  And one of them includes our climate vulnerability, and the set-backs we have suffered over the past many years.”


Karla Heusner

“But Mister Ross also said that there are like ninety countries in dire straits; most of them in fact have, he said, been able to come back and ask for additional COVID help. But because of Belize’s track record, we can’t do that. To what extent is our track record an issue here?”


Christopher Coye

“Belize has its own sets of challenges. It certainly is an outlier in many respects when it comes to its debt. I think it is the sixth highest in the world. So maybe the ninety other countries out there, but probably eighty-eight of those are not in the position that we are in. So we have to deal with what we are facing.”


Minister Coye says Belize does not want to enter an International Monetary Fund Program, but prefers to pursue its own homegrown strategy because it does not wish to give up its fiscal sovereignty.  He says the I.M.F. program would likely include public sector job losses, higher taxes and possibly a devaluation of the Belize dollar.

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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