The International Monetary Fund’s Executive Board has concluded its 2017 Article IV Consultation with Belize and the report states that the economy continues to face multiple challenges. In short, the IMF states that the country’s macroeconomic outlook remains weak and public debt remains elevated. Despite having achieved a restructuring of its debt with external bondholders, Belize public debt remains high at around 100 percent of GDP and growth is projected at just under two percent over the medium term. The IMF continues stating that the quote, “envisaged tightening of the fiscal stance reflected in the budget for 2017/2018 is an important first step toward fiscal consolidation, but would not be sufficient to put public debt on a decisive downward trajectory. Withdrawal of Correspondent Banking Relationships and low capital buffers, particularly in a systemic bank, are key threats to financial stability,” end of quote. This morning, we asked Leader of the Opposition John Briceno for comment on the latest report.
John Briceno, Opposition Leader
“I’m not surprised because nothing has gotten any better. The economy continues to stagger, its not moving in the right direction we are not addressing the fundamental issues of the economy sitting down with the productive sector and seeing what we can do to get them out of that situation. I know Minister Finnegan likes to say that I am worried about the rich people it has nothing to do with the rich people it’s the productive sector that creates employment and brings hard earned currency into this country and if we just ignore them then what is going to happen. Its precisely what they are facing right now and the productive sector includes thousands of small farmers that have five acres of citrus, five acres of cane. We squandered $450 million dollars in contracts because there has been a massive hustle. We could have used that money put aside for the productive sector so that we could lend them at 5% since we only have to pay 1% so that these people could have gone and rebuild and replant the cane and replant their citrus or cattle or whatever it is that they are doing but it has been a big hustle. The PetroCaribe has been a big pinata for the UDP and it is easy for them to give a contract and they can get a kick back as opposed to investing in the productive sector so unfortunately I am not rejoicing because all of us are suffering. The stupidity and the corruption of the UDP government and the incompetence of the government and I wish that we can try to see how we can reverse it.”