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Belize laws aligned with “Superbond”

The government of Belize amended a number of its laws and financial regulations to streamline Belize’s finances to meet whatever interests payments Belize’s creditors will agree to under the restructured “Superbond” agreement, when the House of Representatives met in a special sitting at the National Assembly building in Belmopan on Thursday, August 23.

The amended laws are also designed to bring the nation’s financial regulation into compliance with Belize’s needs to honor its financial obligations to the International Monetary Fund and the Inter-American Development Bank, which have been assisting Belize with the process of re-structuring the Belize U.S. Dollar bond.

Prime Minister Hon. Dean Barrow introduced a Bill to strengthen Central bank’s supervisory powers and it regulatory independence, to make Belize’s financial institutions compliant with international standards.

Barrow explained that the need to amend the law was indicated during an assessment exercise of Belize financial sector, which was done by the government of Belize in collaboration with the International Monetary Fund.

The law also created the post of a financial administrator to ensure compliance. The Bill also had the effect of repealing the Banks and Financial Institutions Act.

Opposition Leader Hon. Francis Fonseca supported the Bill, admitting its worthiness, although he also expressed certain reservations about its intent.

A Bill was also introduced to amend the Belize Offshore Practitioners Act, which was principally a cosmetic exercise to change the name of the Association.

As part of its obligations to regional economic organizations of which it is a member, Belize must also remove certain tariff restrictions on a number of imported items, of which there are also local producers.

The government therefore amended the Customs and Excise Duties Act to adjust rates and licensing requirements for the importation of these items to substitute for the previous tariff restrictions that protected local producers.

Education is the engine that drives Belize’s economic development towards meeting its debt obligations, so the government also introduced a Bill for a loan from the Caribbean Development Bank to finance education.

Most of the Bills were carried by assent through their second and third readings, and then referred to the Senate for final approval into law. The new laws were mere formalities for the more painful changes brought about by Belize’s default on its US$23 million coupon payment on the Superbond on Monday, August 20.

Barrow  explained this at a press conference at the Biltmore Plaza hotel on Wednesday, August 22, as he bid Godspeed to Belize’s Debt Review Team led by Ambassador Mark Espat, Minister of Local Government  Senator Godwin Hulse, Financial Secretary Joseph Waight, and Central Bank Governor Glen Ysaguirre, who departed to meet with Belize’s creditors in Washington.

 

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