BELOMPAN, Belize-The main opposition People's United Party (PUP) says it backs the decision of the Dean Barrow government to seek to renegotiate the restructuring of its US$544 million superbond with investors. "We have not been briefed by the government on this matter. They (government) have not shared with us any official information. You know but having said that, our position we believe, as a responsible opposition is to act in good faith on this issue," said PUP leader Francis Fonseca. "We believe it is an absolutely critical issue for Belize's development and Belize's future. "So our position is very clear, we want the bond renegotiation exercise to succeed and whatever we can do as an opposition to assist we are prepared to do," he added. A delegation headed by Ambassador Mark Espat has already visited Washington for talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the issue and Governor of the Central Bank, Glen Ysaguirre said the first face to face meeting with the bondholders is expected to be convened next month and a definitive offer should be on the table by the middle or ending of September.
Belize is currently trying to renegotiate its foreign debts with creditors and has offered them a three-pronged payment plan, which involves an extension of the payment period on the super bond well beyond the 2029 maturity date. The Barrow administration said that the Step-Up Bond due 2029 contains a collective action clause that permits the holders of 75 per cent of the bonds either to amend the terms or approve a complete exchange of that bond for a new instrument or instruments. "The Government is currently disinclined to close a restructuring transaction unless that 75 per cent threshold has been reached."
The government acknowledged earlier this month that the interest payment of US$46 million on Belize's accumulated US$544 million foreign debt was due on August 20 and that the payment would have been the country's first under the interest payment plan on the US dollar Step Up Bonds due in 2029. The government said the reason for the non-payment is that the stepped up payments represent almost one half of the country's total public indebtedness under the new stepped up 8.5 per cent rate. Fonseca said he still believed that "on an issue of this level of national importance, its absolutely important for all of us to be talking from the same hymn sheet. "It is not about Francis Fonseca having all the information. It is about me being able to share the information with the supporters and members of the People's United Party, who as I said, represents half of the country, who need to be properly educated and informed on the facts," he said. (CMC)