BELMOPAN, Sat. Apr. 10, 2021– The government of Belize has not shied away from stating the deplorable conditions of our current economy. Today, in a virtual International Monetary Fund (IMF) / World Bank Spring Meeting, Belize’s delegation, headed by the Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance, Economic Development and Investment, Hon. Christopher Coye, highlighted the critical condition of the country’s economy.
Over the last year, there was a dramatic increase in the country’s debt to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio, which has reached an all-time high of 130%. The country’s economy contracted by more than 14% as a result of the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on industries such as tourism and a dip in output in the agricultural sector due to a year of drought in 2019 followed by floods, coupled with hurricanes Eta and Iota in 2020. Each event significantly decreased the year’s crop yield.
Despite Belize’s economic situation, Minister Coye says that Belize, like other middle-income countries, has been disadvantaged in its ability to access funding. “As challenging as Belize’s experience has been, as a deemed middle-income country (MIC), Belize, like other MICs, has not been a beneficiary of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative,” explained Minister Coye. “Belize has not been the recipient of resources under the IMF’s Rapid Credit Facility. Belize is not likely to be eligible under the Common Framework. Belize has not been the beneficiary of any debt relief whatsoever,” Hon. Coye said.
In March 2021, the IMF projected that the economies of the Caribbean and Central American region will expand 4.6 percent by the year’s end. Despite this, the outcome of the battle against COVID-19 and how effectively various nations in the region can devise economic solutions to their situation are yet unanswered questions. In view of this, Minister Coye proffered hope that small states like Belize may be granted meaningful debt relief, grants and concessionary funding to bolster the economy and climate resiliency as well as promote sustainable economic recovery.