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GOB Introduces the Blue Bonds Bill to the HOR

Also brought to the House today was the Blue Bonds Bill. It’s a significant bill that the Briceno Administration says will finally slay the Superbond Dragon. The House passed the resolution authorizing the purchase and redemption of the GOB US Dollar Bonds due 2034. The Government continues to work to restructure its external indebtedness by retiring all of its U.S. Dollar Bonds. The government managed to strike deal with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) which will see the government save approximately half billion Belize dollars. Prime Minister John Briceno introduced and explained the motion.

John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize: “Let me in simple terms outline what government seeks to do. First we will slay the superbond dragon dead forever and ever. Second by tapping the so called Blue Bonds we would reduce the public debt by over half a billion dollars. Hear Leader of the Opposition ? Over a half a billion dollars that’s what this PUP government will do. And third, we will establish marine conservation mechanisms to vastly improve the protection and management of our ocean and reef and finance an unprecedented multi decade marine conservation program with a portion of the savings achieved from our debt restructuring thrusting Belize into the forefront internationally as an emergent leader in marine conservation. Belize will owe less, pay back less for debt and invest more in marine conservation a triple play of national benefits that places Belize and Belizeans at the shining pinnacle of both sovereign debt remodeling and climate resilient motivation. I will now address each broad facet of the transactions that will proceed from the authorization we seek today starting with the superbond. Government’s negotiating team, after extended discussions with a bond holder committee secured a forty five percent discount on total amount Belize owed under the superbond contract. Forty five percent. So of every dollar we owed they’re writing off forty five cents. The original principal of the superbond was $526.5 million US dollars. I could send you a copy afterwards. This is my presentation the rest you have to get it. Last year the UDP government asked bond holders to capitalize interest increasing the principal outstanding to $552.9 million dollars US. Let me say this for the record Mr.Speaker in thirteen years under the UDP after paying millions in interest today we owe more for the superbond than when they took over the government in 2008. An additional $18.2 million US dollars was owed and unpaid in interest up to the 19th of October 2021 and a principal reinstatement of $58.4 million US dollars would have come due had Belize defaulted on it’s bonds. Taken together principal, capitalized interest, past due interest and principal reinstatement government would have been on the hook for $629.6 million US dollars with superbond holders. The results of our negotiations that forty five percent discount will wipe away $257 million US dollars or more than half a billion Belize dollars that Belize owed from principal, capitalized interest, and past due interest.”

The move to retire the Superbond and undergo a conservation funding agreement, giving birth to the Blue Bonds, began under the UDP Government. While the Opposition supported the motion today, Opposition Leader Patrick Faber says that more information should have shared.

Patrick Faber, Opposition Leader: “I do want to place on record Madam Speaker our discontent with how the government moved in terms of the documents having to do with this motion and the bill. You see Madam Speaker and I am very pleased let me commend you Madam Speaker for your effort and your work in ensuring that we get documents in an more timely manner I think the fact that we’re allowed to get them electronically now at the time of the notice as you pointed out in your preamble this morning before the meeting started Madam Speaker is to be applauded . And it is as a result of that I suspect that we were able to get some of the documents on Friday as opposed to getting all the documents this morning. But something is still not right and is terribly wrong Madam Speaker. Even now, even now as we stand here there are missing pieces to this puzzle. Look the Blue Loan Agreement which is this document, this is the document we got this morning you know Madam Speaker. When I checked the package that was sent there were some documents. There is the conservation fund terms ,there is the conservation commitments, there is this one called the conservation funding agreement but the loan agreement was missing and while I don’t want to go that far Madam Speaker I have to wonder if there is something secretive going on. These are the things that case suspicion Madam Speaker. When I inquired they said that they sent it over to the clerk’s office from Friday insinuating that it is the clerk’s staff that messed up and did not deliver these documents as they were instructed to do. And I really don’t believe that that is the case. These things matter. How in the world can you expect us to debate a motion – and this is a document that says at the end that there are several schedules which are very important for us to be able to positively contribute in general to the debate.”