Belize currently registers as the sixth most indebted country in the world. It is a startling reality, but the figures presented this morning in the budget reading have indicated that the country owes four point two billion dollars. This was highlighted by Prime Minister John Briceno during his presentation of the General Revenue and Appropriation Bill today in Belmopan. It was his first budget reading since his ascension to Prime Minister. The 45-page presentation spoke on the public debt, revenues, wages, expenditure, and the economic out-turn. The immediate financial future is dismal as outlined by PM Briceno.
Hon. John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize: “Can there be any doubt that the deluge of UDP debt was deliberate, pre-meditated and designed in equal parts to disguise the underlying decay to the public finances, to fund a pre-election orgy of hustling, and to sabotage their successors? Their disgraced brand of costume party politics, the short-sighted lack of concern for the next generation, has pushed all of us to the very edge of default, the erosion of our exchange rate and national disgrace.
It is undeniable that the UDP Administration turned over to my Government an economy that was far worse than a mess, they turned over an economy that was in veritable tatters: a busted budget for this fiscal year that has required average borrowing of more than $1 million per day, a soaring level of unemployment that is afflicting 29 percent of the workforce and a total public debt that’s the sixth highest in the world.
Not even those on this side of the House could have imagined these possibilities. The sixth most indebted nation, the fifth most severe depression of 2020, our status as one of only 13 countries on the planet that do not even appear in Transparency International’s Corruption Index, hence leaving us without a ranking – that is the legacy of the UDP.
This is the extent of the national decline which my Administration begins to reverse with this, our first National Budget proposal. The scale of just how much the Government owes today is breath-taking: the equivalent of $10,000 for every man, woman and child; $50,000 in debt for each family of five; the inconceivable total sum of $4.2 billion -– that’s the number 4 followed by nine digits. For the average Belizean citizen, whose annual income under the UDP withered to $5,800, a level not seen since 1992, such unearthly indebtedness is unconscionable.”