By: Omar Silva, Editor National Perspective Belize
Date: Belize City, Thursday, 26th October 2023
In a recent development that has left many citizens puzzled, the Belizean government has been touting its successes in repaying past due loans while simultaneously accumulating fresh debts of undisclosed amounts. This dual strategy has ignited a wave of curiosity and concern among the public, prompting questions about the sustainability of Belize's financial future.
The government's latest move involves seeking a substantial loan of $7 million U.S. dollars from the Inter-American Development Bank to fund a blue economy project aimed at sustainable growth. While investment in the blue economy is generally seen as a positive step, the nagging question persists: Why is the government repeatedly turning to loans when there is no clear indication of a comprehensive debt management plan in place?
During a recent session in the Senate, government Senator Christopher Coye expressed his support for the loan but also recognized the need for fiscal responsibility. He emphasized the importance of budgeting for such expenses, especially considering the loan's disbursement over a five-year period. "Why didn't we budget for this small amount of money when it's going to be spread out over five years anyway? We're saddling the Belizean people with yet another loan," he remarked.
On the other side of the aisle, opposition senators voiced their concerns over this borrowing trend. They questioned the necessity of resorting to loans for relatively small sums when fiscal planning could have accounted for these expenditures over time.
The lead opposition senator, Michael Peyrefitte, offered a stark reminder of the country's growing debt burden. He pointed out that since November 2022, Belize had accumulated loans totaling approximately $1.1 billion. Peyrefitte urged the government to break the cycle of borrowing and to prioritize financial stability.
The heart of the matter lies in the lack of transparency surrounding the total foreign debt of Belize and the absence of a clear strategy to manage this debt effectively. While the government celebrates its loan repayment achievements, the public remains in the dark about the overall state of foreign debt and the implications of ongoing borrowing.
As Belizeans ponder the government's financial decisions, many are left wondering whether the nation is being led toward long-term prosperity or deeper indebtedness. The call for clarity and transparency in financial matters grows louder, as citizens seek answers to the pressing questions surrounding the country's economic future.