Belizean PM says "confident" of debt renegotiation

Source:Xinhua Published: 2012-8-23 14:43:01

Belize is confident that it can renegotiate its external debt with international bondholders to avoid default, Prime Minister Dean Barrow of the Central American nation said Wednesday.

"We are absolutely confident that we will succeed. We are absolutely confident that we can achieve a negotiated solution," reports reaching here from the Belizean capital of Belmopan quoted him as saying.

He denied that Belize was approaching default, saying the country was prepared to assume the consequences if current negotiations with bondholders failed.

Officials were ready to consider and discuss creditors' proposals, Barrow said, adding that he was "obliged to underscore that Belize's government will only accept a proposal that reflects the country's payment capacity."

The prime minister asked for a balanced renegotiation, and rejected the possibility of tax increases demanded by the International Monetary Fund.

On Monday, Belize failed to make a scheduled payment of $23 million in interest on a $547-million bond. As the country was already in negotiations with creditors, it escaped "default" labeling.

But Belize has to reschedule its debt in a 30-day grace period, until September 19, or it will fall into default.

Among the renegotiation options on offer, one calls on international organizations to accept a 45-percent cut on their investment, with a 30-year maturity and 3.5 percent interest rate. Another alternative is to extend the bond's maturity by 50 years to 2062 and reduce the interest rate from 8.5 percent to 2 percent.

Belize, which has a population of 330,000, currently has a total external debt of more than $1 billion.

Posted in: Americas

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