By Caribbean News Global contributor
BELIZE, Belmopan – On April 10, 2021, a Belizean delegation participated virtually in the World Bank/IMF’s Spring Meetings, led by Christopher Coye, minister of state in the ministry of finance, economic development and investment.
The delegation included Narda Garcia, chief executive officer in the office of the prime minister, and Elvira Mendez, Belize’s Counsellor to the IDB’s office of executive directors.
In his address to the virtual forum, minister Coye highlighted the critical condition of the nation’s economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, exacerbated by a drought that decimated crops in 2019 and 100-year floods caused by hurricanes Eta and Iota in 2020. In numbers, he explained, “the effect has been dramatic with economic contraction exceeding 14 percent, debt-to-GDP skyrocketing to 130 percent, unemployment approaching 30 percent, fiscal revenue shortfall near 30 percent and a primary deficit around 8 percent of GDP.”
Minister Coye also pointed to the pressing discussion of debt relief that must take a position of priority, noting that “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.
“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.”
Minister Coye expressed the hope, on behalf of small states like Belize, for meaningful debt relief, grant and concessionary funding to successfully avert the dual debt and climate crises with a view to long-term climate resiliency and sustainable economic recovery and transformation.