Last week the Opposition People’s United Party declared Belize’s foreign reserves to be in “crisis” mode following the payment of sixty-seven point three million U.S. dollars as the first of two payments to Dunkeld International Investments and B.T.L. Employees’ Trust in satisfaction of the settlement agreement made by the Permanent Court of International Arbitration and recently upheld by the Caribbean Court of Justice. This came on the heels of former Governor of the Central Bank, Glenford Ysaguirre, issuing a warning to Financial Secretary Joseph Waight about how such payments would seriously impact the Belizean economy. This morning, Ysaguirre’s replacement, Joy Grant, sought to reassure Belizeans that the reserves can and are bouncing back from this system shock.
Joy Grant, Governor, Central Bank of Belize
“You all know that with Hurricane Earl and with the productive sector – bananas, citrus, shrimp, all having a downturn – that we are very much engaged in reviewing our foreign currency situation, our foreign exchange situation on a regular basis, even maybe more than before; and looking to projections so that the Central Bank will be able to ensure that the payments are there in the future. But I want to assure the Belizean public that there is no crisis with foreign exchange. We have foreign exchange; we are doing everything as a jurisdiction to make sure that foreign exchange will be there for the business community and others who needs it. However, because we have said before that there’s been a large outflow within the last few months because of these extraordinary payments, that there’s been a decrease, but that there is sufficient foreign exchange in the system for us to continue to operate.”
“How much do we have?”
“We have – and it changes every day – so the last time I checked, we have three hundred and fifteen million U.S. dollars.”
Governor Grant could not recall off-hand how many months of import cover Belize has and asked reporters to follow up today. We have but have not received a response of yet. However, according to the International Monetary Fund’s Article IV Consultation Report issued in September, the reserves added up to about four point four months of imports, in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Earl and before the Caribbean Court of Justice’s decision. As the Governor noted, the amount of reserves changes from day to day.