Last month the Briceno Administration announced that more than eighty percent of the Government’s international bondholders have indicated their support for the debt for nature swap Blue Bonds initiative. The government has highlighted time and time again that this debt swap will save the country hundreds of millions of dollars. Minister of Public Service, Constitutional and Political Reform, Henry Charles Usher says that while this is the case, it does not mean that the country will have additional millions of dollars in cash.
Henry Charles Usher, Minister of Public Service, Constitutional and Political Reform: “The expiry date for buying into the bond is still November 19th so I think that we haven’t reached that date yet. I know at the next House meeting they’re going to take the offer to the House to be approved and then we can then start the process of accessing the financing at the fifty five cents on the dollar to pay off the debt and then we’re going to what is called the Blue Bond meaning that in addition to saving Belize or saving the country over three hundred million dollars we’re also promoting the protection of our environment. So really it’s a win win situation. Saving the country three hundred million dollars doesn’t mean that we have three hundred million dollars to spend it’s really just cash flow relief. You’re able to say okay we don’t have to pay that much in debt in this period, in this quarter or whenever the payments are due meaning that you can save so much on that, it doesn’t mean that you have extra to spend somewhere else. Similarly the fifth part of that economic recovery plan was the salary adjustment to public officers and ten ten percent salary adjustment wasn’t to be able to have sixty million more to be able to spend elsewhere it’s to create more cashflow relief. Remember I started off by saying that every single month we’re borrowing thirty million, that was under the UDP. If you’re able to save and have cash flow relief now instead of borrowing thirty million in the first month maybe we only had to borrow fifteen, then ten, then five then you reach a point where your revenues can pay for your expenses and that way you’re in the black as the Prime Minister said in his speech. That went from being in the red under the previous administration to having a positive monthly revenue to expense sheets. And that’s important -”
Ernesto Vasquez, Host, The Morning Show: Are we in the black or are we in the gray ?
Henry Charles Usher, Minister of Public Service, Constitutional and Political Reform: “Well what do you mean by the gray ?”
Ernesto Vasquez, Host, The Morning Show: Well we’re not out of the red fully.
Henry Charles Usher, Minister of Public Service, Constitutional and Political Reform: “What I think is important to understand is that we’re able to at least pay for our expenses. We’re not borrowing to pay salaries. We’re not borrowing to pay Mexico for electricity. We’re not borrowing to pay for the every day expenses that government has, that was what was happening under the previous administration. They did not have enough revenue to cover their expenses they were spending more than they were getting in income.”
Also speaking today on the Blue Bond was Prime Minister John Briceno. He met earlier this month with several of the key players from The Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund where they spoke in depth on the pending arrangement. PM Briceno went further by telling Love News that the Belize will be the second country to undertake such a deal under the Blue Bond Program.
As for the remaining bondholders who are yet to tender offers, the expiration date was extended to Friday, October 15.