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Oct 23, 2017

House Approves Loan for Haulover Bridge

Dean Barrow

Last week Prime Minister Dean Barrow secured a twelve-million U.S. dollar loan from the OPEC Fund for International Development on a visit to Washington, D.C. It’s intended to replace one of Belize’s longest standing bridges, the Haulover Bridge crossing the creek and joining Belize City with Ladyville on the Philip Goldson Highway. In short order, the motion was read to the House of Representatives on Friday for authorization, and received bipartisan support, although Leader of the Opposition John Briceño, as he did with the International Banking amendment, once again complained about the rushing of motions through the House for approval.

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“And whereas the terms and conditions are as follows: lender, OFID; loan principal amount, U.S. twelve million; loan term, twenty years, five years grace period plus fifteen years repayment period, and the grace period is five years from the date of the loan agreement. The repayment is in thirty semi-annual installments of U.S. four hundred thousand dollars commencing on July fifteenth, 2022. The purpose is to construct this one hundred and forty-seven meter long and twenty meter wide bridge. The rate of interest is two point five percent per annum on the principal amount withdrawn and outstanding and payable semi-annually on January fifteenth and July fifteenth in each year. Service charge one percent per annum, on the principal amount withdrawn and outstanding and payable semi-annually on January fifteenth and July fifteenth in each year.”

 

John Briceño

John Briceño, Leader of the Opposition

“We recognize the importance of the Haulover Bridge; we are not against it. But what is the emergency? If the Prime Minister would wish, we could have another House meeting in the next two weeks, that would give enough time for this to go to the House committee, and for us to be able to ask the proper questions. We are not in any way in this case imputing improper motives. But they need to respect this side of the House. And they need to be able to give us an opportunity to study it and to be able to meet with the people in the Ministry of Works and the contractors to be able to get a better understanding of everything. This is too much, Madam Speaker; this is way, way too much, and we object to what the Prime Minister is attempting to do once again in the House.”

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“It is, as the Leader of the Opposition concedes, squarely in the public interest. The loan terms and conditions are nothing out of the ordinary, they are extremely concessionary. Any fool can digest it in five minutes. It is, given that we were in Washington and we had to make the arrangements with the OFID Director General, a matter of urgency; I would think that there would be no problem in supporting this.”

 

The motion was passed through all stages. The loan covers almost seventy percent of the total funding for the civil works in the area.

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