Belize’s depressed economy has taken center stage in national discussions as the Barrow administration prepares to make another attempt to re-negotiate the over $500m Superbond debt. Prime Minister Dean Barrow explained in interviews yesterday that the Superbond renegotiations have become necessary because the economy has not performed as expected under the terms of the 2013 negotiations with bondholders. Today, Leader of the Opposition Hon. John Briceno called on the media to address the issue squarely. He explained why in his view the situation could have been avoided and called the looming debt crisis, a UDP-made economic disaster.

Screen_Shot_2016-11-15_at_8.14.27_PMHonourable John Briceno - Leader of the Opposition/PUP

“The facts are that we are in this position because of the UDP’s incompetence and that the UDP messed up and this is the UDP Super-bond.  Let’s look at the facts; when he met with the Bond-holders obviously he sugar coated you know the UDP’s incompetence and ability to manage the economy, he manage to get these concessions from the Bond-holders by making certain promises (1) that they were going to reduce debt by 60%of GDP by 2017, today we find out that our debt is at 81% of GDP, he promised that there was going to be fiscal consolidation and that they were going to better manage the deficits of the government today we find out that every year our deficits continue to go up and that on our last report the government pointed out that they had a deficit of 8% of GDP, all of these promise were made to the Bond-holders and he failed miserably on all of these promises.  If they would have done the right things four years ago in 2013 or three years ago we would not be in this situation that we are today, that is my point not that we don’t want them to succeed but it is because it is a problem that has been created by this United Democratic Party government, it is a government with no plan, it is a government that is clueless and they have no vision for this country and because of that the Belizean people we are paying that price.”

Opposition Leader John Briceno also expressed concern with the current economic state in the country. Things have only exacerbated and the news that there will be tax increases in the next fiscal year has only made it worse.


Honourable John Briceno - Leader of the Opposition/PUP

“Look at what is happening to us right now in Belize, Belize is going through its most difficult economic hard times that we’ve had in the entire history of Belize; there are no jobs, there is no money, the economy is on its knees, the cost of living continues to go up, the Prime Minister announced at his last budget that he was going to increase taxes on fuel by about 50 million dollars, that today approximately .49 cents of every dollars that you pay at the pump goes to the government, over the weekend bus fares, there was an announcement late last week that the bus fares are going to go up, in some instances it has gone up by as high as 88%, people are going through its worst economic recession and there is only the UDP to be blame for what is happening. We need to take into consideration that the Prime Minister is on his way out, he doesn’t really cares what is going to happen to the Belizean people because the Bond-holders are not going to give in unless there is massive pain on the Belizean people; taxes will have to go up, for some time the IMF has been saying that GST needs to up by 15% has been saying and the Prime Minister has admitted it that they will have to cut down expenses or the expenditure from the government that is a code word for retrenchment, that retrenchment is coming more sooner than later and when you couple this with what is happening to our economy, an economy that is already on its knees this is going to have a devastating effect on the economy and the people of Belize.”

The Government’s economic team is led by senior advisor Ambassador Mark Espat and newly-appointed Minister Carla Barnett. If the names ring a bell when you add the word Superbond to them, it is because they were also involved in the original Superbond negotiations back in 2006. That was when the PUP was in Government. Back then Espat was a PUP Minister and Barnett was hired by the PUP Government as financial secretary. Both Espat and Barnett were also involved in the 2013 re-negotiations, but under the UDP administration. Now, once more those persons will be involved. Could there something fishy about this scenario – same crisis, same players? Opposition Leader Hon. John Briceno surely believes so.

Honourable John Briceno - Leader of the Opposition/PUP

“When you look at the people who are behind this negotiations, in 2006/2005 it was Carla Barnette and Mark Espat, in 2012/2013 it was Carla Barnette and Mark Espat and now here we are in 2016 and who are the people behind the negotiations Carla Barnette and Mark Espat, we know that there are huge fees in the millions of dollars to be collected as what the Prime Minister used to like and love quoting, his friend Lord Michael Ashcroft when he was talking about the retirement for the boys, this negotiation is a retirement for privileged UDP boys.”

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