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International Monetary Fund
Belize’s economy is projected to decelerate in 2009 owing to the global downturn. Real GDP growth is projected at 1 percent, reflecting the impact of declining tourism, remittances, and foreign direct investment inflows. Executive Directors have welcomed the broadly favorable economic performance in 2008, and have commended the authorities’ commitment to pursue sound macroeconomic and financial sector policies to manage near-term risks. Directors have also emphasized that strong macroeconomic policies are necessary to underpin this exchange rate regime and help raise international reserves to a comfortable level.
International Monetary Fund
Belize should reduce debt ratios to comfortable levels for smooth market access, and reduce liquidity risks by stabilizing debt service. Streamlined management of the oil fund should be considered. Fiscal measures should compensate for the loss of oil revenues in the budget and avoid new borrowing. This note explores alternative measures of reserves adequacy and concludes that a reserves target of three months of imports is a reasonable benchmark. Reforms enabling more effective liquidity management involve removing the ceilings and moving to market-based interest rates.
International Monetary Fund
Belize’s near-term macroeconomic prospects have improved over the past year. The main risks to growth and financial stability arise from fiscal challenges and deterioration in the global outlook. Despite data limitations that constrain the analysis, the Belize dollar appears broadly in line with fundamentals, and the external accounts are not a threat to external stability. Progress in consolidating the public sector’s financial position needs to continue. A front-loaded fiscal adjustment is necessary to lower Belize’s debt ratios and regain market access.
Koffie Ben Nassar
Motivated by the concern that corporate income tax (CIT) competition may have eroded the tax base, this paper calculates average effective tax rates to measure the impact of CIT competition, including the widespread use of tax holidays, on the tax base for 15 countries in the Caribbean. The results not only confirm erosion of the tax base, but also show that CIT holidays must be removed for recent tax policy initiatives (such as accelerated depreciation, loss carry forward provisions, and tax harmonization) to be effective. These findings suggest that the authorities should either avoid granting CIT holidays or rely more on other taxes (including consumption taxes such as the value-added tax) in order to broaden the tax base.