BELMOPAN-Prime Minister Dean Barrow has returned home from the United States where he held talks with International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) on the country's multi-million dollar foreign debt, referred to as the "super bond". Last month, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country was handed a life line after the government announced that it had been successful in raising funds to meet a partial payment on its US$544 million foreign debt.
The government said that the US$11.7 million amounted to approximately 50 per cent of the interest payment due to the bondholders, who in an immediate response indicated they would not be going to court for an additional 60 days to allow for the conclusion of negotiations on debt restructuring. Barrow, who headed a delegation of the Debt Review Team including, Mark Espat, the Financial Secretary Joel Waight and Central Bank Governor Glen Ysaguirre, said they met "at the highest level at the IDB with President (Luis Alberto) Moreno and a large section of his staff. "At the IMF, we met with Mr Min Zhu, who is the Deputy Managing Director, but the one in charge of the Western Hemisphere into which sort of constituency Belize falls. He also had a large team at the meeting".
Barrow described the talks as "extremely useful" adding that the delegation had "a very useful and wide range comprehensive consultations with both institutions". Prime Minister Barrow said that "there was no question of a full guarantee" regarding the debt restructuring exercise. "We have not asked the IDB for a full guarantee. It is well known that we have asked for a partial guarantee. And indeed that was part of the menu of items discussed between ourselves and the IDB at this meeting.
"All I can tell you is that the process is very much entrained; there are all sorts of protocols to be followed by the IDB. This is, for them, unprecedented. And so the technical inputs, the care that has to go into the decision making process with respect to Belize's request, means that it's going to be a fairly long drawn out exercise."
But Prime Minister Barrow said he was satisfied that all the considerations that are appropriate to Belize's request are being actively studied by the IDB, reiterating that the talks "were extremely useful". Asked whether he felt that a framework for restructuring could be reached before year end, Prime Minister Barrow said that "what's of critical importance is the negotiation that is taking place between Belize and the bondholders. He said that those negotiations are likely to take place "on a completely separate, perhaps parallel track from whatever talks we have with the institutions, with the IDB and the IMF. CMC