Belize’s national external debt at the end of 2014, according to Central Bank statistics, is in the range between $2.2 and $2.3 billion with a cumulative interest rate of around 3.7 percent.

This amounts to around $84 million in interest alone. According to the 2014 report, the 2008 restructured bond accounted for 46.8 percent of the external debt and loans from multilateral institutions accounted for 28 percent at the end of the year.

The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) were the principal multilateral creditors, the report said. Due to sizable disbursements from Venezuela, the share of bilateral funding agencies increased from 22.3 percent to 25 percent, with Venezuela accounting for a little over half of the bilateral debt stock, overtaking the Republic of China on Taiwan as Belize’s largest bilateral creditor.

Venezuelan disbursements to Central Government totaled $115.7 million and accounted for 97.9 percent of bilateral disbursements and 67.5 percent of all foreign borrowing during the year.

Bilateral disbursements were used for budgetary support and to finance several investment and infrastructural projects, including the National Bank, the Golden Stream Big Falls border road project, the Corozal border rehabilitation, and upgrades to the national road and drainage networks.

According to the report, at $153.2 million, debt service payments were $29.4 million higher than the amount paid in 2013. Principal payments remained relatively stable at $79.0 million, while interest payments saw a resurgence to $73.6 million due to the resumption of bi-annual interest payments on the 2038 Restructured Bond, it said.

Central Government repaid $31 million to bilateral lenders, most of which went to ROC/Taiwan, and $36.5 million to multilateral creditors, mainly the CDB and the IDB. The financial public sector, namely the Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and the Central Bank, made respective repayments of one million to CDB and $1.8 million to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to retire the Emergency Natural Disaster Assistance loan.

The non-financial public sector paid $4.1 million to the CDB and $3.9 million to commercial suppliers.

At the end of 2014, Central Government accounted for 96.5 percent of the outstanding external debt, and the financial and non-financial public sector for 2.6 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively.

During 2015, the report said, $0.6 million of the present portfolio is scheduled to mature, and $178.3 million will mature during the next ten years, leaving $2 billion of the national debt with a maturity schedule that exceeds ten years.

The Reporter made several attempts to contact the Financial Secretary, Joseph Waight, as well as the Central Bank for a more detailed breakdown of the country’s current national debt, but was not able to get that information.

The Reporter