August 2011

Statement by an IMF Mission to Belize

Press Release No. 11/314
August 25, 2011
Mr. Gerardo Peraza, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Mission Chief for Belize, released the following statement today in Belmopan:
“An IMF mission visited Belize from August 15-25 to conduct its yearly review of the country’s economy. Belize weathered the financial crisis relatively well, when compared with other countries in the Caribbean Community. Output expanded in 2010—owing largely to activity in the electricity, and wholesale and retail trade. Twelve-month inflation was nil in 2010, reflecting the impact of tax exemptions on several food staples and continued weakness in domestic demand, but picked up slightly early this year (0.9 percent in February 2011), driven by higher food and fuel prices. Growth in 2011 is being supported by expansion in the manufacturing and agriculture sectors, as well as an improvement in the terms of trade, allowing the stabilization of the foreign reserves cover at about 3 months imports of goods and services. Meanwhile, Belize continues to face challenges due to a high the level of nonperforming loans (NPLs) – which require close and continuing monitoring by the central bank – high public debt, and concerns about the business environment.
“In this context, the discussions focused on three critical policy challenges facing Belize: achieving fiscal consolidation and gradual debt reduction; safeguarding financial and monetary stability; and strategies for boosting growth and reducing poverty.
“On fiscal consolidation, the government needs to adopt a stronger fiscal stance to reduce its dependence on grant and oil revenues, and rebuild macroeconomic buffers to deal with future shocks. The primary surplus would need to rise significantly over the medium term to lower gross financing needs and public debt. The mission also underscored the need to protect the public sector balance from the recently nationalized entities, and the need to further develop a clear plan of action to mitigate contingent fiscal liabilities.
“On financial sector stability, the authorities recently participated in its first Financial Sector Assessment Programme (FSAP), which reviewed sources of vulnerabilities and development gaps in the financial system, including access to finance. The mission supports the authorities’ plan to use the FSAP findings as an opportunity to rebuild momentum for financial sector reforms, including strengthening loan classification and provisioning rules and the bank resolution framework. The IMF stands ready to provide technical assistance in rapidly advancing these reforms.
“On growth and poverty, the government is working with the private sector to identify specific measures to improve the business environment, which is critical to support long-term investment and poverty reduction. However, more needs to be done to positively influence the private sector’s perception of the business environment over the medium term. Measures to improve long term competitiveness, such as enhancing critical infrastructure, along with close monitoring and evaluating of the poverty reduction programs, are also required.
“Upon its return to Washington, the mission will prepare a staff report that is scheduled to be discussed by the IMF Executive Board in late October. The mission is especially grateful for the open communication and close collaboration enjoyed over the past two weeks not only with government officials, but with all Belizean stakeholders, with whom it had the privilege of exchanging views.”

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The Surprising Side of Belize

Posted on August 3, 2011 by Dan Prescher

My wife Suzan and I had a chance to see more of Belize than we ever had before during our assignment there for our upcoming “Belize Initiative” on this varied and beautiful little country.

One of the places we were especially impressed with was the Cayo district. This is probably the most fertile and productive district in Belize, and that’s saying a lot for a country where almost anything you stick in the ground will grow. For anyone looking for a quiet, rural, back-to-nature lifestyle, Cayo has to be high on the list.

One of the largest Mennonite settlements in Belize is in Cayo, and you can be forgiven if you mistake the countryside around the settlement for the rolling farm country of Ohio or Iowa.

With all the attention that gets paid to Belize’s Caribbean shoreline and lovely islands and cayes, Cayo can go overlooked, but it offers the best of both worlds to expats looking for quiet, upcountry living with the beach just a short, easy drive away on Belize’s newly improved roads.

In fact, lots of expats are making just that decision, and we talked to a few of them for ourBelize Initiative, which will be released Aug. 5. They’ll explain in detail the attraction of living in the pastoral paradise of Belize’s Cayo district.

Meantime, here’s a quick video taken with my Flip Video camera. We’re looking at a house in Cayo that’s for sale for $259,000.

The Surprising Side of Belize

The Surprising Side of Belize.

American’s deals to the beautiful, bounteous Belize

Flights to Belize … soak up some sun and still save

Quick, think of a sun-suffused Caribbean beach. Belize come to mind? Probably not. But it should.

The country is certainly on American Airlines’ radar screen. The carrier is running a seat sale to this northernmost of Central American countries just now. Book and buy no later than Aug. 8. Travel out by Nov. 10, and return no later than Nov. 17.

Sample fares are each way, and you’ve got to make a round-trip purchase to get them. Taxes and fees are not included.

Washington, D.C. flights to Belize City (usually $806 roundtrip) are $238 each way.
Dallas/Ft. Worth flights to Belize City (usually $966 roundtrip) are $240 each way.
San Diego flights to Belize City (usually $869 roundtrip) are $263 each way.
New Orleans flights to Belize City (usually $851 roundtrip) are $275 each way.
New York flights to Belize City (usually $842 roundtrip) are $275 each way.
Oklahoma City flights to Belize City (usually $1,000 roundtrip) are $287 each way.
Baltimore flights to Belize City (usually $919 roundtrip) are $293 each way.
Search and compare more cheap flights to Belize.

Story by Jerry Chandler
(Image: Nagyman)’s-deals-to-the-beautiful-bounteous-belize/

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