The annual General Debate of the seventy second session of the United Nations General Assembly began on September 19. The debate presents an opportunity for world leaders to discuss global issues at the UN Headquarters. This afternoon, Minister of Foreign Affairs Wilfred Elrington made his presentation. Elrington stated that Belize, as a middle income country, is currently heavily indebted with external public debt standing at seventy percent of GDP or 2.3 million dollars and domestic debt at twenty-two percent of GDP or 750 million dollars. Government remains reliant on loan financing at for development at market rates and the withdrawal of correspondent services compounds the problem.
Wilfred Elrington – Minister of Foreign
“My government has endeavored to bring a case to our private debtors to negotiate an onerous bond that threatens to upend our debt sustainability. The world of international private finance however is not a world that places high priority on public policy especially policy of a foreign government. The Caribbean is experiencing this reality with the ongoing crisis of the withdrawal of correspondent banking services to our indigenous financial institution. It matters not to the likes of Bank of America or to JP Morgan Chase that ending corresponded banking relations with a nation’s bank or a Central Bank effectively excludes that nation from the global financial system. And the response from the country where those banks are located is mere sympathy. This is a major concern not for the Caribbean alone but for all developing countries given the universal pivot to the private sector to finance the development agenda. It behooves the United Nations to develop a participatory framework for the private sector to account for their commitments and action to advance the global goals. The high level political forum offers a useful platform to integrate such a framework. The United Nations should also develop appropriate capacity to track the alignment of private financial flows with the 2030 agenda.”
In his presentation, Elrington also mentioned the Belize Guatemala territorial dispute but made no mention of the current situation at the Sarstoon River.
Wilfred Elrington – Minister of Foreign Affairs
“Both Belize and Guatemala are poised to conduct the requisite referenda to obtain the consent of our people. In the meantime we continue and with the full support of the Organization of American States to take a constructive approach to our bilateral relations and to maintaining peace along the borders. Belize remains committed to working with Guatemala to finalize a corporation mechanism for the Sarstoon River in order to minimize the potential of tension or incidence along Belize’s Southern Border.”
The UN General Debate will conclude on September 25.