Belize missed a $23 million bond payment and asked foreign creditors to renegotiate the small Central American country's foreign debt, which totals about $1.1 billion, Belizean media reported.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow said his government did not have the funds to make the debt payment due on Monday and is also unlikely to come up with the required amount in the next 30 days, Radio Stereo Love reported.

Belize had until Monday to make a $23 million payment on about $544 million of bonds.

The government will try to renegotiate Belize's debt, cutting interest rates by at least 1.5 percentage points, Finance Secretary Jose Waight said.

The Finance Ministry had announced on Aug. 14 that it would not be able to make Monday's bond payment.

Belize initiated negotiations with bondholders to strike an agreement on restructuring the instrument, officials said last week.

The interest rate on the bonds increased this year to 8.5 percent and the government cannot allow itself to make payments of such magnitude given the other financial challenges it must deal with, Barrow told Belizean media.

Belize's foreign debt rose during the 1998-2008 government of conservative Said Musa, who sold Treasury bonds on the international market and took out loans from international financial institutions for public works projects.

Barrow, who was reelected as prime minister in March, has refused to raise taxes as suggested by the International Monetary Fund, or IMF, and has called for a "balanced" renegotiation of the debt. EFE