Government of Belize and CDB launch $12.8M Poverty Alleviation Project Print E-mail
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Thursday, 18 April 2013 00:00

The Ministry of Economic Development, in collaboration with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), officially launched a BZD.8 million project on Thursday, 11th  April, which will finance a number of poverty alleviation projects throughout Belize. The project will be implemented by the Social Investment Fund (SIF).

The funds for the project are the allocation for Belize under the Bank’s Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF) which is now into its seventh cycle. A delegation from CDB, headed by Mrs Darran Newman Belgrave, Portfolio Manager of the CDB’s Social Sector Division, joined the Hon. Santiago Castillo, Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, in launching this latest cycle of the BNTF in Belize.

“Today’s launching illustrates the strong, warm and friendly cooperation ties between Belize and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).  Economics has made us partners but our fight against poverty has made us inseparable allies. Belize, therefore, is extremely grateful to the CDB for being with us in good and in bad times, but in particular for providing the necessary funding for programs that address the needs of the poor in Belize,” Minister Castillo said.  

The BZD$12.8 million for Belize under BNTF(7) represents an increase of approximately 74.8% in CDB funding over the BNTF(6) programme. BZD $11.1 million is in the form of grant funds and BZD$1.7 million represents Government of Belize counterpart financing. The increase in funding means more money for projects in the three key areas of focus under BNTF7, which include Education/Human Resource Development, Water and Sanitation, and Access/Drainage. The funds will be targeted toward poor areas of the country, with the poorest areas receiving the most attention.

 “The Government of Prime Minister Dean Barrow believes and is guided by sound policies such as honesty, transparent and accountable government. It was against this backdrop that in February 4, 2011, we formally launched a BZD $30.0 million dollar loan from the CDB, known as the SIF II loan, to finance some 110 new small scale community projects in Belize, which are currently underway and being implemented by the Social Investment Fund (SIF). When you combine the current projects under the SIF II loan with the BZD$12.8 million BNTF7, Belizeans will see a greater flurry of activity in the coming months as it relates to the implementation of projects aimed at reducing poverty in Belize,” Minister Castillo added.

The project launch took place at an official ceremony at the Belize Biltmore Plaza Hotel and preceded a two-day workshop which focused on a number of relevant issues including CDB procurement policy and implementation procedures.

Topics covered by the workshop include Governance and Institutional Arrangements and Development, Environment Management and Climate Change Adaptation, Project Implementation/Human Resources, Financing Plan and Administrative and Financial Management, Poverty Reduction Action Plan and Community Participation and Empowerment, Procurement, Communications and Social Marketing and Quality Assurance, Standards, and Reporting.

Presenters at the workshop will include Mr Martin Baptise, Gail Royer, Yuri Chakalall, Cavon White, Sophia Prescod, George Yearwood, Elbert Ellis, Marlene Johnson, Yolande Yaw and Norman Cameron from the C.D.B.

Participants include staff from the Social Investment Fund, the SIF Board of Directors and representatives from a wide range of community-based, governmental, non-governmental and private organizations. 

The BNTF Program is a regional grant program for poverty reduction infrastructure and livelihood enhancement services. Over its 33 years of existence, the program has disbursed over US$189 million regionally. Ten countries, including Belize, currently benefit from the BNTF.  The BNTF has contributed strongly to the national development of Belize through the provision of social infrastructure including resource centres, schools, health clinics, access to water, sanitation, drainage and roads. Traditionally BNTF investment in Belize has been highest in the areas of education and water supply projects with about 60% of the BNTF projects being in these sectors.

The fifth cycle of the program or BNTF5 was concluded in 2012 with 101 projects completed at a value of approximately BZD $17.1 million. The Belize BNTF6 program is expected to be completed at the end of 2013 with 22 projects valued at BZD$7.3 million under this program.