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01 May 2013
New York, May 01, 2013 -- Belize's Caa2 government bond rating will likely remain in the Caa
range for the next two to four years, given persistently high debt
ratios and two defaults in the past seven years, says Moody's
Investors Service in its latest report on Belize. Two default events
reveal the country's low debt tolerance and signal diminished institutional
willingness and ability to service external debt, according the
report "Credit Analysis: Belize, Government of."
Moody's says government debt on the order of 70% of GDP,
coupled with limited fiscal and foreign exchange buffers, impairs
Belize's credit outlook and leaves the country vulnerable to adverse
shocks that can materially impact government creditworthiness.
Debt servicing capacity is likely to decline as Belize exhausts its limited
oil reserves. At the current rate of extraction, oil exports
are set to decline to around 1% to 2% of GDP by the middle
of the decade, from a high of 11% of GDP in 2011, impairing
both fiscal revenues and foreign exchange earnings, says Moody's.
Compensation claims arising from the nationalization of two utilities
during 2009 - 2011 - Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL) and
Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) -- could pose significant credit
risks. Currently in litigation, the materialization of sizeable
BEL/BTL liabilities would significantly increase the likelihood of another
external debt restructuring, says Moody's. Contingent
liabilities could also stem from a weak banking sector, as poor
credit quality and under-provisioning for impaired loans has led
to a marked deterioration in capital adequacy ratios and profitability
In April, Moody's upgraded the government bond rating to Caa2
from Ca after Belize restructured its sole foreign currency bond,
the US$547 million "Superbond" due in 2029.
The distressed debt exchange represented Belize's second debt restructuring
The upgrade balanced an improvement in the government's liquidity
position following a pre-emptive restructuring of its external
commercial debt, against a debt overhang that was not cured by the
default and continues to impair Belize's solvency, says the
For more information, Moody's research subscribers can access
this report at http://www.moodys.com/research/Belize-Government-of-Analysis--PBC_153362.
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Asst Vice President - Analyst
Sovereign Risk Group
Moody's Investors Service, Inc.
250 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10007
VP - Senior Credit Officer
Sovereign Risk Group
Moody's: Debt overhang will continue to constrain Belize's sovereign rating
Moody's Investors Service, Inc.
250 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10007
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