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Feb 18, 2016

CARICOM Development Fund: What Does It Means for Belize?

The Twenty-Seventh Intersessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM concluded in Placencia on Wednesday.  Much of the discussions during the three-day event centered around major regional concerns, including the issues of correspondent banking and the Zika virus.  While those topics remained at the front of the agenda, the CARICOM Development Fund, led by C.E.O. Rodinald Soomer, has been making moves to finalize several projects presently underway in Belize.  Those works include the rehabilitation of the Phillip Goldson Highway and the Haulover Bridge.  With an allocation that has been earmarked for those projects, Belize is benefiting from being the first CARICOM member state to access funds from CDF.  News Five spoke with Soomer, who shared with us the extent of CDF’s involvement in Belize’s socioeconomic development.

 

Isani Cayetano

“To what extent is the CDF’s involvement in either the development of Belize or vice versa, in terms of Belize being able to access funds from that particular organization for development purposes?”

 

Rodinald Soomer

Rodinald Soomer, C.E.O., CARICOM Development Fund

“Well I’m happy that you asked that question just because we are in Belize.  Belize happens to be the first country that met the requirements to access resources under the fund.  We signed the first country assistance program with Belize towards the end of 2010 and we started activities with Belize in early 2011.  We are now towards the end of the program with Belize, we’ve approved a portfolio of projects totaling just over six million U.S. dollars.  We are at a very high percentage execution on that program.  In fact now as we speak, we have some of the officers of the organization in Belize City and Belmopan working with our partners here to iron out any final glitches to ensure that we have full implementation of these projects and we expect them to be fully implemented towards the end of 2017, but they are very, very far advanced now.  In terms of the programs with Belize, we have a three million U.S. dollar line of funding with the Development Finance Corporation which they then on-lend to small and medium enterprises.  We have an allocation towards the rehabilitation and the expansion of the Phillip Goldson Highway.  The specific component of that we’ll be focusing on is the Haulover Bridge.  We are partnering with the Caribbean Development Bank in getting that project implemented.  So our resources from the fund for Belize would go towards the bridge, getting the bridge restructured, rebuilt.  So these are the two major elements of our program but we’ve also assisted the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development at the time with improving the process of managing the public sector investment program.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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