Six out of every ten Belizeans are poor. That is the statistic that came out during a recent statement made by Prime Minister John Briceño at the United Nation General Assembly back in September. The glaring statistic, including joblessness and the country’s economic state was further devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s that excerpt from the PM’s speech.

Prime Minister John Briceño


“COVID-19 brought the Belizean economy to its knees. Unemployment reached thirty percent as thousands of Belizeans lost their jobs. GDP declined by fourteen percent, our debt ballooned to a hundred and thirty percent of GDP. Many small businesses were shuttered. The poverty rate increased to sixty percent. The impact of the pandemic has been swift, dramatic and devastating. The human toll has been deadly. Our health facilities are overwhelmed as they were unprepared for the surge in admission of critical patients. This is not unique to Belize. To confront the urgency of the pandemic, governments across the globe reallocated funds to meet desperate needs. Loans originally committed for development and climate change, were diverted to cover emergency health needs and to mitigate the impact of the unemployed. Massive additional barrowings became the new normal as lockdowns were extended. The common framework and debt service suspension initiative failed to offer forbearance to most middle-income SIDS, including Belize, who are ineligible despite our debt unsustainability. At the same time, most of our countries had no recourse to concessionary financing to fund immediate health response.”

Channel 5