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Mar 23, 2020

COVID-19 Oversight Committee Meets Following First Case Confirmation

Dean Barrow

The Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition will be co-hosting a press conference scheduled for Wednesday and we will bring that to you as it happens. But this morning, the COVID-19 Oversight Committee met at the Laing Building in Belize City immediately after the prime minister’s press conference.  From that meeting come additional measures to be taken aside from the state of emergency for San Pedro.  With immediate effect, all bars, clubs, lounges and casinos countrywide will be closed.  Restaurants will only be opened for takeouts as of Wednesday.  Equally important, however, is the planned disbursement of twenty-five million dollars to be used to provide relief for persons within the tourism sector that are affected by the coronavirus crisis.  PM Barrow prefaced that meeting by sharing a few points with the media beforehand.


Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“Naturally, the oversight committee will be looking at this development but as well we’ll be hearing from the economic czars.  We’ll be hearing again from the governor of the Central Bank, we’ll be hearing from Joe Waight as to the sorts of measures we can take apart from the borrowing that we are doing so that we can try to assist people who are going to be laid off.  We’re going to be hearing about what government and public officers will need to do in order to cut spending.  Clearly the revenue base is being terribly eroded in consequence of what has happened.  But the most important aspect apart from the health aspect of the meeting to come at ten is to continue to flesh out the plans and proposals and the sourcing of the funds so that we can start to cover those persons who have already lost their jobs.  I can tell you that B.E.L. is providing a million dollars for us to help with this exercise.  I think B.W.S.L. is doing the same.  I have not yet heard from B.T.L.   I see that there was a press conference held by FECTAB or whatever it’s called last week and they are saying we need to start paying now because we already have seventy-five million dollars.  I explained painstakingly when I spoke about the sourcing of funds that first of all, the twenty-five million dollars that we are borrowing has to be approved by parliament.  The house has done so, the senate meets on Wednesday.  So we don’t get that twenty-five million dollars until the budget with that additional allocation is passed.”

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