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Mar 18, 2019

Caracol Road Expenditure is Questioned by Opposition

For the umpteenth time, the government is seeking funding for the Caracol Road. During Friday’s budget presentation, Prime Minister Barrow sought money for the Caracol Road in western Belize. This time it was twenty million U.S. dollars from the Kuwaiti Fund on top of another forty million U.S. dollars from OPEC Fund last year.  It has not gone down well with members on the other side of the House. Opposition Leader John Briceño and Cayo Northeast Area Representative, Orlando Habet were quick to move on it. Briceño said the money could be used for a hospital in San Pedro or for sugar roads in the north. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports. 

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The construction of a road which will allow for direct access to the ancient Maya archaeological site of Caracol is raising serious eyebrows among opposition parliamentarians.  The Barrow administration has lauded a project of this magnitude as enhancing the overall tourism vision by opening up the natural and environmental wonder of the area.  Others in the House of Representatives, however, are not quite convinced particularly since government is once again seeking approval for significant sums of money for the project to proceed to its second phase.  Here’s what the prime minister presented before the house on Friday.

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“Madame Speaker, I move whereas the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development provides support for Arab and other developing countries by providing concessionary financing whereas the Government of Belize has requested assistance for partial financing of Phase Two of the upgrading of the Caracol [Road] and whereas the fund has approved an offer a loan in the amount of six million Kuwaiti dinars,…  Equivalent to approximately US20 million and whereas the approved funding will be used to finance sixty-four percent of the amount needed for the civil works and one hundred percent of the amount needed for technical assistance and whereas the Government of Belize will cover the remaining thirty-six percent through counterpart contribution.”

 

On April 26th, 2018, eighty million dollars from the OPEC Fund for International Development, OFID, was set aside for the paving of the Caracol Road.  It followed the signing of an agreement between Prime Minister Dean Barrow and OFID’s Director General Dr. Suleiman Al-Herbish for twenty-six miles of gravelled road to be paved.

 

Orlando Habet

Orlando Habet, Area Representative, Cayo Northeast

“Madame Speaker, on this second loan which is for forty million Belize dollars it also states that it only covers sixty-four percent of the cost; therefore, the hundred percent for this second phase will turn out to be sixty-two point five million dollars.  So the total cost, Madame Speaker comes up to one hundred and forty-nine million, nine hundred and twelve thousand, eighty-seven dollars, with an average cost per mile of two point eight-eight million dollars.”

 

The Caracol Road project aims to upgrade access roads from Georgeville and Santa Elena Town to the location, with double-lanes and concrete bridges being constructed.  Cayo Northeast Area Representative Orlando Habet was first to raise concerns about the borrowing and spending of those monies.

 

Orlando Habet

“Madame Speaker, there are various concerns in regards to this project.  Firstly, the first eighty million, or ninety-one percent of the cost of phase one was approved on March 9th, 2018, one entire year ago.  Today, we are presented with a request for a further forty million of a total of sixty-two point five million for phase two when phase one has yet to commence.  Madame Speaker, not one stone has been moved anywhere from Georgeville to Caracol.  Additionally Madame Speaker, I have a hard time considering such a project spending a hundred and fifty million dollars in the wilderness to access the Caracol Mayan temples.  These kinds of monies are spent by very rich governments that have money pouring out of their eyes.  The people at Progresso/Seven Miles will tell you that they prefer to get their village roads, their streets and farm roads upgraded.”

 

Opposition Leader John Briceño agrees that the monies being spent on that stretch of road can be used elsewhere for social development.

 

John Briceño

John Briceño, Leader of the Opposition

“I, in good faith, cannot support this loan; twenty million dollars U.S., paving the road to Caracol and the honorable member from Cayo Northeast was right.  I don’t know if they are trying to confuse us in bringing different loans so they can’t keep track as to how much really we are going to be spending on the Caracol Road, because if you look at what has been presented to us right now Madame Speaker, they are saying that this amount right now is only covering sixty-four percent of this portion of the road.  So they have to borrow another thirty-six percent, that thirty-six percent Madame Speaker is another eleven million, two hundred and fifty thousand US dollars that has to be borrowed yet.  There are so many other pressing needs in this country, Madame Speaker.”

 

Isani Cayetano reporting for News Five.


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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