S&P: Belize Remains in Default, Despite Partial Coupon Payment


Above: Parliament in Belize

By the Caribbean Journal staff

Ratings firm Standard & Poor’s has not changed its “SD” foreign currency ratings and “D” rating on Belize’s bond due in 2029 after the country made a partial payment of $11.7 million last week.

The firm still considered the country to have missed the $23 million coupon payment that was due on Aug. 20.

“Although the terms of the 2029 bond include a 30-day grace period for interest payments, our ratings speak to full and timely payment,” the firm said in a statement. “They also address debt exchanges that we view as distressed. By either measure, the government remains in default, based on our criteria.”

Belize is continuing to hold negotiations with the holders of the country’s $547 million bond that is due in 2029.

The firm said it would publish its expectations for a post-default foreign currency rating once the likely rescheduling terms became “clearer.”

Of sovereigns that have emerged from default in the last 15 years, ratings have ranged from “CCC” to “B,” Standard and Poor’s said.

In August, Prime Minister Dean Barrow said the country “simply [could not] afford this coupon payment, given the financing shortfalls and other challenges we face.”