Last week we told you of the report from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) where it was indicated that the country’s GDP to debt ratio has significantly lowered. Explaining the numbers is CEO in the Ministry of Economic Development, Dr Osmond Martinez.
Dr. Osmond Martinez, CEO, Ministry of Economic Development: “For the first time in the history of Belize, we have a 9.8% growth and it is important to compare the Barrow administration on the first year performance and the Briceño administration on the first year performance. In 2009, the GDP growth was by .3% and now it is by 9.8%. One of the things that the general public is saying is that they are not feeling that benefit and so I just want to tell you that the growth is recovery. Why? Because last year the GDP contracted by 15.6% and now the growth is 9.8% which means that we are still not at the levels of 2019. Okay? What the government has done very well is in managing the debt, the country’s debt, whereby there was a restructuring of the Super Bond to the Blue Bond and just on that restructuring and payment of the Super Bond, Belize managed to save 500 million BZD and so, but there is growth. Even though it is recovery, it is growth and the public officers now will enjoy their 10% salary cuts will be given back to them.”
Dr Martinez further explained that the country’s economy can continue seeing gradual growth if we can bring a balance between the imports and exports, among other factors.
Dr. Osmond Martinez, CEO, Ministry of Economic Development: “When we import, we also import inflation and so for example, if you buy a computer right now and the computer in the United States was 5 or 10% more expensive than last year, when you bring that item into the country, you are also bringing the inflation and so 53% of Belize’s GDP is imported and so by assisting the productive sector, that is key. We have a program, for example, with the Resilient Rural Belize Program under the EFAD funds which was sitting down there from 2018 and that also has a component GCF of the Green Climate Fund, and that’s $40 million BZD and that has different components on it. One of them is capacity building; 2. Is to help with marketing; 3. Is to help in the development of infrastructure to have a road access and better communication from the farm to the market and so, but we need to do more of it. In addition to that, I mean as Belizeans, we need to look at other opportunities where we can have added value products. So for example, we produce pineapples. We export pineapple juice but we import millions of dollars on processed pineapple. So why not process the pineapple here? We have the capability to produce. Then we produce bins. We export bins but we import processed bins. We import millions of dollars of processed bins every year. Why is it that we are not producing, having that added value product in Belize? So one of the things that the country and the economy needs to move forward is that our currency should have more transactions within our ecosystem before it exits. It simply means, for example, whenever you buy fuel, that first transaction, the money is being leaked out of our ecosystem then that will not reach full employment and full growth. So the more transactions we have, the better, as a result of it, the macro economy will be stabilised because we have an unstable macro economy which we have worked very hard to stabilise it and I think we have done a good job on the first year but there is still tremendous amount of work that needs to be done.”