Minister of Local Government, Hugo Patt, acts as PM again
BELIZE CITY, Mon. Apr. 16, 2018– Prime Minister Dean O. Barrow left the country yesterday, Sunday, April 15, a government press release said today.
PM Barrow will be attending a meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS), and will also meet with International Monetary Fund (IMF) officials in Washington, DC.
The Prime Minister is expected to be away until Saturday, April 21.
In the Prime Minister’s absence, Minister Hugo Patt, the Minister of Local Government, Rural Development, Public Service, Energy and Public Utilities, will act as Prime Minister.
This is the second time within the past week that Patt has been selected to act as Prime Minister, bypassing other senior Cabinet ministers such as the National Security Minister, John Saldivar, who is expected to mount a challenge to current Deputy Prime Minister, Patrick Faber, when the United Democratic Party (UDP) holds its next national convention.
Last September, when the IMF visited Belize for its Article IV Consultation, it noted that Belize’s public debt remains high, at around 100 percent of GDP, despite a recent debt restructuring Belize had done with private bondholders. Medium-term growth was projected to be just under 2 percent for Belize.
The IMF also noted, “The envisaged tightening of the fiscal stance reflected in the budget for FY2017/18, of 4 percentage points of GDP, 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 (CBRs) and low capital buffers, particularly in a systemic bank, are key threats to financial stability.”
Last month, after the Barrow government passed a budget that increased taxes on telecommunications, BPO, tourism, and a few other services/commodities, that budget was described by the Leader of the Opposition, John Briceño, the Orange Walk Central area representative, as “lifeless”, with “no glitter and no substance.”
Amandala attempted to speak to Financial Secretary Joseph Waight today, but we were unsuccessful. Neither were we successful in speaking to Audrey Wallace, the CEO in the Office of the Prime Minister.