On the economic front, the Statistical Institute of Belize is reporting that the nation’s debt-to-GDP ratio has fallen to 88 percent, from 133 percent where it was in 2020. The drop is largely attributed to the historic swapping of the Superbond, valued at 553 million U.S. dollars, to a blue bond. The so-called debt-for-nature swap decreased the country’s external debt by roughly 12 percent of GDP. President of the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Marcello Blake spoke on the matter, calling it a welcome step in the right direction.
Marcelo Blake, President, BCCI: “Regarding the debt side of things as of December 2021 our domestic debt was somewhere around 3.9 million, alright so almost 4, sorry, billion. Almost 4 billion and so with the GDP in 2021 now listed at 4.4 billion, it makes you look at how the calculations were happening prior but really at the end of the day I think what is most important in all of that is how those numbers will be seen from a debt to GDP ratio in the international arena because really at the end of the day, when we were at that 110% of GDP in the calculation and now we are somewhere down to about 89, it does give us wiggle room in order for us as a country to be able to hopefully access funds. But all of that is just speculation because it all depends on what those rating agencies such as Standard and Poor’s, and Moody’s, World Bank, IDB, IMF, and all the others will utilise those numbers for. It also must be noted that while the debt to GDP ratio is a factor, it’s only one of many factors that these IFIs and rating agencies actually look at in determining our ability to be able to repay. So it’s a change and at the end of the day it is primarily to look at what I think internationally, or how internationally, we’re going to be viewed with these adjustments. The reality is that on the ground, the everyday individual is not feeling any adjustments in that calculation because, let’s be honest, at the end of the day, the hard numbers don’t change. Alright? So that is one thing to look at. I mean, how will the consumer, the businesses feel this impact and I’ll be honest, we’re unclear as to what that will be because the numbers change but the hard numbers haven’t.”
The SIB reported that by the end of 2021, Belize’s economic output had reached higher levels than what was recorded for pre-pandemic 2019. The secondary and tertiary sectors saw the most growth in this first quarter, driven largely by the following industries: Manufacturing; Construction; Electricity; Water; Hotels and Restaurants; Wholesale and Retail Trade; and Transport.