Back in November 2009, Belize was visited by Samy Watson, Executive director for the Caribbean region of the World Bank. At the time, government was looking at the possibility of accessing 15 million U.S. dollars for funding the Municipal Development Project. It was quite the endeavor since the World Bank had just about broken off its relationship with Belize as a result of the PUP administration’s unwillingness to adhere to the bank’s guidelines. That changed with the UDP administration and as soon as was possible, the government began to look at ways on accessing financing from the bank. The Municipal Development Project was one such way and now, after almost 2 years and 4 months since the initial visit, the program, is rolling out in full gear.
The most recent municipality to benefit was Punta Gorda where the town board’s administration building will be rehabilitated; streets will also be paved. In the first phase of the program a total of $425,000 will be invested in Punta Gorda alone. Other municipalities that will benefit under the project will be Belmopan, Benque Viejo del Carmen, San Ignacio and Santa Elena, Dangriga, Corozal and Orange Walk.
According to the World Bank, the objective of the BMDP is to improve access to basic municipal infrastructure and to enhance municipal management in selected town and city councils of Belize. The project is divided into three working areas including infrastructure development and two sub-projects for improvement of management capacity. The second area of focus will be technical assistance and capacity building for the city and town councils. The third and final component will entail the strengthening of the operational capacity of the Social Investment Fund for implementation and management of the project, to ensure compliance with fiduciary controls, supervision, monitoring and reporting, and compliance with social and environmental safeguards, through the provision of technical advisory services, training, operating costs, and acquisition of goods including vehicles.
Based on the BMDP and the benefits that the financing will have on most municipalities across the country, it is evident that the government has and will always work at ensuring that people come first. The monies are being borrowed and properly applied to have as much benefit on as many people as possible. It took the UDP 4 years to establish the groundwork and now the projects and financing for these are coming into effect. The next five years under the UDP then will be one of pure development.