Belize dodges an economic bullet

By Benjamin Flowers

Belize was spared a huge economic disaster this week, when Tropical Storm Franklin passed the country without causing any damage.

While Franklin was a relatively weak storm, Belize is counting on an incident free hurricane season for the sake of the recovering agricultural industry and for the sake of Belize’s other financial obligations.

Franklin crossed the Yucatan Peninsula on Tuesday, with winds of 45 miles per hour and forecasted rain of between 3 and 12 inches. In the event the storm had hit Belize, it could have caused damage to the country’s agricultural industry, which is still recovering from Hurricane Earl.

Earl, which hit Belize just over a year ago, caused more than $100 million to the Agricultural sector alone, and was a major contributor to Belize’s economy contracting by 0.8 percent in 2016, according to the International Monetary fund.

The Statistical Institute of Belize noted that, during last quarter 2016, the Banana industry was among the hardest hit by Earl, losing some 6000 tonnes, or 30 percent, of its production as a direct result of the storm damage alone.

The effects of Earl on the country’s productive sector formed a part of the Government of Belize’s rationale to holders of the Superbond on why there was a need to renegotiate the terms of the bonds.

In those re-negotiations, GOB guaranteed that the country would primary surplus equal to at least two percent of GDP in each of the fiscal years 2018/19, 2019/20 and 2020/21. If the country is to meet those requirements, all industries will have to be performing as optimally as possible, in tandem with any other revenue earning measures that GOB can coin.

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