PRIME MINISTER COMMENTS ON IMF
Prime Minister, Said Musa, has commented on Belize's position with the International Monetary Fund, IMF. He said it must be noted that the IMF is never satisfied, as they will always look for areas of potential weaknesses.
PRIME MINISTER SAID MUSA:"And that is their role but by and large they were very pleased with the way we have been able to improve first of all the statistical situation in Belize, to get data, important data up to scratch for instance we have been able to bring all the national accounts virtually up to date. This is something that for decades have been logging behind and you can't really assess the value, the strength of an economy unless you have the data of what your national accounts look like. Since coming to office in '98 we had to work very hard, in fact we had to out source it, contract it out because the Accountant General's Department was way behind in these accounts and they just could not cope, they didn't have the man power or woman power to get it done, it was out sourced and we're pretty much up to date now, I believe up to 2000 we have national accounts well up to date so the IMF was very pleased about that, very pleased about the work being done by the Stati!
stics Department on them getting the data, on GDP growth, on employment, on inflation rate and all these very important issues."
During the recent visit by the IMF team, Prime Minister Musa said Belize was cautioned on the issue of maintaining good debt management, as well as the issues of the fiscal deficit.
PRIME MINISTER SAID MUSA:"But these are nothing new, no news to us, from last year as you know we launched a programme to deal with the fiscal deficit to bring down the deficit and we have been bringing it down but of course it hasn't been easy because while bringing down the deficit you also have to ensure that your economy continues to grow, that you're dealing with the basic human needs of your people and the social services. So I would say on a whole that it was a very useful visit of the IMF, we expect another critical report and that is the role of the IMF but I believe they will also signal the advances we've made."
Furthermore, Prime Minister Musa says IMF reports are very important to Belize's financial credibility.
PRIME MINISTER SAID MUSA:"Because the international financial organizations, agencies, cooperation, they all look to the IMF as some possible guide in terms of their assessment but the truth is more and more people are realizing that institutions such as the IMF have also led many countries down the garden path, so to speak particularly developing countries. We have seen where a few years ago for instance the IMF was recommending dollarization now they ate singing a different tune, now they are finding out that dollarization does not work for many countries, particularly for small developing countries, so you're dealing with economists and they all have their own points of view."
The Prime Minister also took time out to comment on debt servicing.
PRIME MINISTER SAID MUSA:"The criticism can be made that Belize is over consuming and that what we need to do is balance this off to match our productive level but no I don't believe that we are at that point, or even heading to that point where we will not be able to service our debt, whether from the Government side or the private sector because what is happening is that there is a lot of catch up growth taking place, a lot of investments taking place and these investments will lead to harvesting later on which would be able to expand the economy, in fact you'll be pleased to note that the economy of Belize is now at the 2 billion mark and this year 2003 which is now ending we will see a GDP growth rate of over 4 per cent so the economy of the country continues to grow and fairly rapidly in fact it is one of the best growth rates economy in the whole region."
Commenting on the strength of the Belize dollar, Prime Minister Musa said even the IMF conceded that decision by the present government to maintain with absolute certainty the belief that the rate peg has to be maintained at 2 Belize dollar to one US dollar is the right one and it has proven correct for Belize.