BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Nov. 26, 2020– On November 18, Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño released a statement outlining a grim economic situation in Belize. Hon. Briceño said that the technocrats from the Central Bank informed the new Cabinet that government revenue has fallen by over 166.8 million dollars.
According to the Prime Minister, Central Government’s debt has jumped to 132.9% of GDP. This is a curve-ball for the new administration, which is now tasked with pulling the economy from perdition.
The recent Cabinet brief states, “Cabinet agreed to present a new budget for the remainder of the financial year at its first working session of the House of Representatives in early December.”
This new budget comes after a recent supplementary allocation pushed through by the Barrow administration. These allocations, Barrow had said, would be necessary, since industries across the country affected by the COVID-19 pandemic would face hundreds of millions of dollars in losses.
The move by the new Briceño administration to effectively redo the budget comes after two rounds of presentations on the State of Public Finance and the Economy from officials of the Central Bank of Belize. The decision was made to present a new budget after the second meeting.
And while this new budget is still being prepared, for now, the Ministry of Health and Wellness will receive $15 million dollars to carry out its COVID-19 response. The Ministry of Sustainable Development, Climate Change, and Disaster Risk Management, headed by Hon. Orlando Habet, will also receive funding to provide food assistance to 5,000 Belizeans affected by the historic flood.
Minister Habet also gave a preliminary report on the damage caused by Hurricane Eta and Iota, roughly estimating damage to be around $150 million dollars countrywide. Major damage has been recorded in agriculture, housing, and infrastructure.
And, in regards to infrastructure, the Cabinet has approved initial funding to Hon. Julius Espat’s Ministry of Infrastructural Development and Housing. These funds will be used to finance the commencement of road works on highways and major roads damaged by the recent rains and flooding.