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Feb 9, 2012

Regional Governors and IDB meet at Coco Beach

Governors from this region of the Inter-American Development Bank are meeting under tight security at the exclusive Coco Beach Resort in northern San Pedro.  According to a report on Belize, crime and violence are getting in the way of progress, negatively impacting the country’s gross domestic product. And while there has been progress, the IDB is also recommending higher taxes to meet social needs. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The signing of a bilateral agreement between IDB president Luis Alberto Moreno and Acting Prime Minister Gaspar Vega in San Pedro on Wednesday night was the commencement of a two-day forum commemorating the Twenty-Sixth Meeting of Governors of the Central American Region and the Dominican Republic.  The Inter-American Development Bank is the largest source of development financing for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Luis Alberto Moreno, President, IDB

Luis Alberto Moreno

“This is a meeting that we do every year with all of the governors of the Dominican Republic and all of the Meso-American countries and the purpose is to do this meeting almost back to back to our annual meeting we celebrate every year around the month of March.  The fundamental purpose is to have a deep dive into the challenges, the needs of this very important region where by the way the bank devotes a lot of time and a very big effort.”

Founded in 1959, the IDB supports economic and social development, as well as regional integration with Latin America and the Caribbean by facilitating loans to governments and their partner agencies.  Among the many constraints hindering growth within the region, primarily in Belize, is the issue of crime and violence.

Luis Alberto Moreno

“We estimate that crime alone is taking away eight percent of GDP in terms of cost to the region.  Well look at questions of regional integration which are so critical and things that we have been supporting, the electric grid so called the SIEMPAC Program which we hope that now, even though the physical line is there, that now the energy market starts to work.  Well look at other opportunities for growth like tourism and some of the many structural reforms that are still needed to provide growth and soundness to the economies of this region.”

Beyond the problem of crime and violence Belize has signed on to an initiative known as the Salud Mesoamerica 2015, sponsored by the world’s wealthiest businessmen, billionaire philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates, as well as Mexican telecommunications tycoon Carlos Slim Helu.  Their objective is to lower maternal and infant mortality among the underprivileged, specifically within the poorest populations.

Luis Alberto Moreno

“This is a very important program that we feel very proud to have been selected by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Fundacion Carso of Mr. Carlos Slim and also by the Government of Spain.  The purpose of this is to have a performance driven kind of program.  In the very specific case of Belize there is a contribution of the Government of Belize through its different agencies of half a million dollars and another contribution of this fund of an additional half a million dollars for a total amount of a million dollars.  What will those resources be directed to?  Basically it’s for close to thirty thousand women.  Mostly the focus here is on neo-natal care that is children from zero to five, on maternal and reproductive health and in dealing with some of the health challenges the country has.”

Critical to IDB’s role in the region is the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.  On January thirtieth, a report on MDGs indicated that Belize has made significant advances in getting things done.

Erwin Contrera

Erwin Contreras, Minister of Economic Development [File: January 30th, 2012]

Today we can celebrate how well the country has performed in reaching some of the goals, particularly those relating to improving maternal health, reversing the spreads of HIV/AIDS and ensuring access to clean water. However, it is of critical importance that we also highlight the areas where we made partial progress as those areas will remain very high in the political agenda going forward.”

According to Moreno, the goal of IDB is to assist in meeting the MDGs.

Luis Alberto Moreno

“Our goal as an institution is to help countries meet the development goals.  In this regard of course the challenges going forward for Belize are challenges on the fiscal side which means better and stronger tax system for the country. On the other hand, all the things that the government can do to continue to have higher growth, I think that’s the tricky balance and in the process achieve the sufficient resources to dedicate those social programs for the neediest.”

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

The meeting of the governors concludes on Friday.

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3 Responses for “Regional Governors and IDB meet at Coco Beach”

  1. Mr Perez says:

    Belize doesn’t need to tax its people more than they are already taxed what we need is to put in practice a fee market system and facilitation of business minded people to get us on our feet for the first time in our lives.
    Belize is so rich and so poor at the time and then these people come to us to what to raise tax on the people?

    That is really crazy!

  2. bmpanese says:

    IDB is recommending better and stronger tax system, and that does not necessarily mean higher taxes.

    My humble advise would be drop the tax on fuel and create a stiffer tax on cigarrettes and licquor, offer sensible import duty on vehicles to discourage hanky panky (evation of taxes). This will lend to more road worthy and newer vehicles to be imported resulting in less accidents and less emissions.

  3. Earl Grey says:

    CRIME and VIOLENCE is AFFECTING THE GDP… ’nuff said.

    WHICH POLITICIAN(S) WILL PUT AN END TO CRIME and VIOLENCE??????

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