By Gustavo Palencia
TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) – Honduras requested membership of the CAF-Development Bank of Latin America, the organization reported Thursday, as leftist President Xiomara Castro’s administration seeks financing to alleviate severe budgetary imbalances left by her predecessor.
Castro, who took office in January, must tackle a public debt of almost $15.7 billion, or 59.3% of Honduras’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
More than 30% of the national budget must go toward paying off the debt, according to finance ministry officials.
“The government of Honduras formally expresses its interest in becoming a member of CAF, with the aim of having various financial tools and instruments available,” the government wrote in a letter addressed to and published by the development bank.
The letter mentions Castro’s desire for Honduras to form part of the CAF “within the shortest possible time.”
At the beginning of the year, the Honduran Congress approved the government to take on some $2 billion in internal and external debt to handle the imbalances in public finances over the next two years.
The CAF, based in Caracas and established in 1970, is made up of 20 countries, 18 from Latin America and the Caribbean as well as Spain and Portugal, and 13 private banks in the region.
(Reporting by Gustavo Palencia in Tegucigalpa; Writing by Kylie Madry in Mexico City; Editing by Stephen Coates)