IMF Executive Board Approves US$6.9 Million in Emergency Assistance to Belize

Press Release No. 09/41
February 18, 2009

The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved today SDR 4.7 million (about US$6.9 million) in financing under emergency assistance for natural disasters to support the nation's recovery from the economic after-affects of serious storm damage and flooding in 2008.

Belize sustained considerable damage from flooding, which is estimated to have caused overall direct and economic losses of about US$66 million, or 4.8 percent of Belize's gross domestic product. The balance of payments impact is estimated at about US$46 million.

IMF financial support to Belize is part of a range of efforts by the international community to assist the country in its recovery, including infrastructure loans from the Caribbean Development Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, plus humanitarian aid and technical assistance from UN agencies and international aid groups.

At the conclusion of the Executive Board's discussion of Belize, Mr. Murilo Portugal, Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair, issued the following statement:

"The IMF extends its deepest sympathy to the people of Belize for the loss of life and extensive damage caused by the tropical storms and the resulting flooding during 2008, which has resulted in great hardship for many Belizeans. The adverse balance of payments impact of these natural disasters is compounded by falling external demand due to a global downturn.

"Support from the international community, including emergency assistance from the IMF, will be vital to finance needed imports, while preventing international reserves from falling significantly below the present levels. In recent years, Belize has reduced fiscal imbalances, inflation has remained under control, and macroeconomic stability has been preserved. The authorities are committed to prudent fiscal and monetary policies consistent with halving public debt ratios over the medium term. The authorities' medium-term strategy and structural reforms to strengthen public sector programs and improve liquidity management will be discussed in the context of the next Article IV consultation in spring 2009.

"The authorities' continued implementation of prudent policies, combined with support from the international community, should help Belize recover from the setbacks caused by the floods and restore the economy's growth potential," Mr. Portugal said.

Belize has been a member of the IMF since March 1982, and its quota is SDR 18.80 million (about US$27.7 million).



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