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Sep 23, 2013

Independence Day Speeches: P.M. lauds his government

At midnight on the twentieth September, a flag raising ceremony was held at Belize’s City’s Memorial Park to usher in Independence Day. Thereafter the formal Independence Day festivities moved to Belmopan with the traditional pomp and ceremony befitting the thirty-second anniversary of independence. The Prime Minister gave a glowing report of the state of the nation pointing to several initiatives, some new others which have been on the drawing board for some time. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The occasion of the thirty-second anniversary of Belize’s independence, much like the annual budget presentation, is often an opportunity for the government of the day to make known its many achievements.  This past Saturday was no different.  Before an audience of elected ministers, dignitaries, other invited guests and the wider public Prime Minister Dean Barrow lauded the work of his political party as the present administration.  This year he emphasized on infrastructural development as the primary vehicle by which the country is moving forward.

 

Dean Barrow

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“Now the role of infrastructure in increasing output, productivity and growth, has long since been recognized. As well, it creates jobs and improves the quality of life. It has therefore always been a critical investment area for Government. But as a driver of economic development it has now become the principal implement in this Administration’s toolbox. One reason is that unprecedented spending on infrastructure has now been made possible by Government’s restart of the PetroCaribe arrangement. Under this we are able to secure plentiful, long term, one percent financing from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, long may she live. Accordingly, the infrastructure splurge that will lift the economy and give it wings in this second half of the year has already begun.”

 

Viewers would recall that the area of Belize City, known as Holy Emmanuel Street, which, when completed, will connect both the north and south sides for direct access to the George Price and Phillip Goldson Highways, was designated for the construction of a transnational station.

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“Work started two weeks ago on the Lake Independence Boulevard connecting the George Price Highway on the south side of Belize City with Chetumal Street on the north side. This will open up the area where both the CDB-funded sporting and community development facility, and the new National and International Bus Terminal, will be built. Government will at the same time construct the new bridge over the Belize River, and the total cost of this signature project will be in the region of twenty-five million dollars.”

 

Similarly, the project to build a new city center, which was to have been funded initially by former Mexican President Felipe Calderon during his tenure, has resumed.  Since that proposal fell apart a few years ago, the Barrow Administration has commissioned Belize Infrastructure Ltd., a subsidiary of the Government of Belize, to undertake the initiative.

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“The dismantling of the old Civic Center has also commenced, in preparation for the building of the new multipurpose complex on the same site. The cost is expected to be 30 million dollars for a state-of-the-art structure, and this money will be provided solely by the Government of Belize. Mexico, which had originally committed to assisting us with 4 the project, will instead now look at funding an Olympic size swimming pool and a volleyball facility at the Marion Jones Stadium. The new Civic Center construction will be handled by the Belize Infrastructure Limited, the special purpose vehicle chartered and owned by Government but with seats on the Board given to the N.T.U.C.B. and the B.C.C.I.  BIL will also oversee the spending of another forty million dollars on community development and sporting facilities, one in each district town countrywide.”

 

The National Bank of Belize which was launched a few weeks ago in Belmopan is another of the government’s recent achievements.  With monies from the PetroCaribe Fund, a government-based financial institution was established to assist middle income families with credit opportunities.

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“The Bank is off to a fast start. And while initially it is concentrating on home construction loans, it is worth reminding that we intend to move as quickly as possible, and perhaps as early as the end of the first quarter of next year, to becoming a full-service, deposit-taking institution. This is part of Government’s overall resolve to push access to affordable credit for individuals and businesses as a key way of stimulating even more growth and productivity. There is a central role in all this for the DFC as well.  Perhaps, then, this is the time to announce what I hope will be an annual feature: an Independence Day gift. As part of its debt relief to Belizeans, Government is arranging to forgive some six point two-two million dollars worth of DFC loans. These are principally mortgage loans, but also include some in the education and productive sectors. For the most part, the loans have already been foreclosed on by the DFC and the borrowers’ collateral seized. But the sale of the collateral was not sufficient to liquidate the debt, and the borrowers were still on the hook for the balance. Government will now step in so that the three hundred and sixty-one persons that qualify under the program will no longer be hounded by lawyers and bill collectors for the remainder of what they owe.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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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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