(AP) NEW YORK - The leader of the Central American nation of Belize says his country won't make a $23 million bond payment by Monday's deadline, bringing the country one step closer to formal default on a total debt of $544 million.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow also says his government is unlikely to make the payment during the ensuing 30-day grace period.
Barrow said Monday that his government simply doesn't have the money to make the payment. He told reporters the government expects to meet with creditors later this week.
The government has offered bondholders a harsh restructuring proposal that would imply reductions in the amount owed, lower interest rates or extended repayment terms.
Belize's government is struggling with a heavy debt from infrastructure projects and recent nationalizations of companies.