General Highlights — 20 September 2012 — by Adele Ramos

GOB urges against “legal wrangle”

“…negotiations with the creditor committee advisors and non-creditor committee bondholders continue,” says Ambassador Espat

Wednesday, September 19, marks the end of the 30-day grace period for Belize to make its August 2012 semiannual payment on the US$544 million super-bond, which it has been trying to renegotiate with bondholders.

Belize defaulted on its August 20, 2012, payment last month, citing an inability to pay – but calling on bondholders to work with the debt negotiation team to come up with a restructured debt relief scheme.

Government has said that it would not likely find the funds to pay within the grace period, which expires a month from now.

“Unless something were to fall out of the sky – that doesn’t happen these days – there can’t be any material change in our circumstances over the next 30 days,” Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Barrow said at a press conference held late August.

Ambassador Mark Espat, leader of that debt review team, told Amandala Monday that, “While the grace period elapses later this week, GoB [the Government of Belize] believes that all parties are aware that a legal wrangle is, ultimately, counter-productive, and that negotiations will proceed apace.”

Espat told us that negotiations with the creditor committee advisors and non-creditor committee bondholders continue, and that the Creditor Committee has offered to extend the grace period. Consequently, the parties are discussing part-payment on the US$23 million past due.

“While there is no consensus as yet on proposed new terms,” he said, “the Government remains completely convinced that only through good faith, transparent negotiations can a fair and timely agreement be attained.”

Committee spokesperson, Ajata Mediratta, partner at Greylock Capital Management LLC, said, “The Committee can confirm that active discussions are ongoing, and that the tone appears constructive, but we have no public comments at this time beyond that.”

According to Espat, the Government is also keeping the international financial institutions (IFIs) abreast of the progress of discussions with bondholders.

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