On Friday February 23rd, the information contained in a text message sent by Financial Secretary Joseph Waight to Government Chief Executive Officers and leaked to the media, that additional funds were not available for this month’s salaries for public officers, sent waves of distress across the country. The text message, which Waight confirmed as his, appeared to be setting the record for CEOs, who had been requesting the release or “dereservation” of funds, which remain in “savings” accounts for each Ministry. Waight responded in his message that the money they see in the system is just “an illusion” and that there is actually no money in these accounts.
The message read [quote] “We are being overwhelmed with requests for reallocations and dereservations of “savings” identified in various accounts. These are illusions as the reality is that there is no money in the bank. As it is we will likely have to issue more T -Notes to meet the early end of year payday next month. Our debt is already at 100% of GDP and rising. If we continue on this path we will certainly crash. I am appealing to all to instruct your finance officers to just stop trolling through their books to find unspent funds. The money is simply not there.”
The situation spelled out very serious financial trouble for the Government and today they had to go on the defensive, issuing out a Sunday evening release in an attempt to clarify the text message.
According to the release, the Government is satisfying all its obligations set out in its 2017/2018 and there is no requirement for the Government to access any financing whatsoever outside the budgeted sources.
The release did not deny Waight’s statement, which was being interpreted as GOB being broke and unable to meet salary payment, but only claimed that the statement was the standard financial year-end instructions to its accounting officers.
But the release said nothing about Waight’s declaration that Belize is drowning in debt. Waight admitted in his text message that [quote] “our debt is already at 100% of GDP and rising. If we continue on this path we will certainly crash”.
Exactly which “path” Waight was referring to, can only be deduced as heavy and reckless spending.