Belize government presents tax-free budget
Belize Prime Minister Dean Barrow Friday presented a BZ$937.9 million (US$493.3 million) tax free budget to Parliament, telling legislators that despite the ongoing global financial and economic crisis the local economy has performed well.
Barrow said the draft estimates included BZ$819.4 million (US$431.08 million) in recurrent revenue, while total expenditure for the next fiscal year which started on April 1, 2012 is estimated at BZ$937.9, with a budget deficit ofBZ$75.2 million(US$39.5 million), up from BZ$69 million (US$36.2 million) last year.
In his budget, titled Exercising discipline while preserving growth, Barrow said Belize had been able to maintain an average annual economic growth in excess of two per cent since 2008.
We have sustained primary surpluses on the Government's accounts of over two per cent. This when G7 rich countries have averaged primary deficits of more than seven per cent, said Barrow.
He said that the provisions for amortization payments increased slightly to BZ$64.6 million (US$33.9 million) which, when combined with the projected deficit of BZ$75.2 million (US$39.5 million), puts governments overall financing requirement at BZE$139.8 million (US$73.5 million).
Barrow said that while there will be serious challenges on the horizon for Belize, compounded by the burdensome debt repayment commitments brought on by the countrys BZ$1.1 billion (US$526 million) superbond, which is an amalgamation of all of the countrys foreign debts, he was confident of navigating the ship of state.
He said there were several factors that made it impossible for us to repay on the terms and conditions contracted by those that got us into this mess, referring to the Peoples United Party (PUP) administration of 1998-2008 under the leadership of former prime minister Said Musa.
A debt-restructuring team, headed by former interim leader of the PUP Mark Espat, and including the Financial Secretary Joseph Waight, has begun meeting with Belizes bondholders to try and get a more favourable repayment terms for the superbond.