Prime Minister Dean Barrow returned here over the last weekend after a visit to the United States for talks with representatives of the bondholders.
Last November, the Belize government said it would seek to hold discussions with holders of the country’s U.S. Dollar Bonds due 2038 as a result of the serious economic and financial challenges currently facing the country.
Belize’s 2038 Bonds were issued in 2013 and are the only government debt securities outstanding in the international capital markets.
The government has said it wanted to conclude negotiations on restructuring the so-called “Super Bond 3.0” of US$530 million ahead of the next interest payment that was due on Monday.
in February this year.
But while he says he remains optimistic an agreement could be reached, Prime Minister Barrow has said that the government has not defaulted on the payment and intends to make the payment ahead of the expiration date.
Barrow led a two-member delegation to the United States last week and on his return said he “met not only with our own advisors but with the bondholders, or rather, to be more accurate, with the two co-chairs of the committee representing the bondholders.
“We had a long exhaustive and perhaps exhausting meeting on Thursday. I would characterize the meeting as having been tough but I’m happy to say that it never became contentious or if it did become contentious it never became rancorous. There was no bitterness, no discourtesy.”
Barrow told reporters that at the end of the meeting “my assessment is that the positions have been greatly narrowed.
“Government left off then from that meeting with a new position in which there has been movement on our part, but a new position that really represents our final position. The two co-chairs representing Greylock and another outfit called GMO must now take back what we have offered as our last position to the other members of the committee.
“They are only the co-chairs, the committee, I think, perhaps constitutes its representation from maybe six or certainly five organizations and then there’s the larger number of bondholders. So it’ll be a while before we know finally what the position is. In the meantime…we won’t pay the coupon that is due on Monday.”
Prime Minister Barrow said that given Monday was a public holiday in the United States “it would not have been paid on Monday but it could perhaps have been paid on Tuesday.
“We won’t pay but it would not be fair to describe that non-payment as default because, remember, that there is a 30-day grace period. So we will be going into the grace period but I really hope that we can wrap this up well before the expiration of that grace period,” he added.
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