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Jul 29, 2020

Senators Debate US$10 Million Loan from OPEC

A ten million U.S.-dollar loan motion was today approved by the Senate. The loan is from the OPEC Fund for International Development to provide financial support on concessionary terms to developing countries. The government has earmarked the monies for the continued food security for the poor and vulnerable population in Belize, under its ongoing Food Assistance Programme, especially amidst the impact of the COVID-19 crisis in the country.  Essentially, the monies are expected to be used for the increase in the coverage of the food programme to other communities in urban and rural areas and to diversify the items provided.  Senators supported the need to assist the poor and vulnerable, but called on the government to provide accountability and transparency given that numerous multimillion dollars loans have been received months before the general elections.  One of the primary concerns that senators pointed out today involves the many Belizeans who have been left out of the food assistance programme.


Mark Lizarraga

Mark Lizarraga, Senator for Private Sector

“We heard many comments; I get a lot of calls on this issue about the lack of transparency in the handling of this program. You hear a lot on social media and in the news that it appears that persons of particular political persuasion seems to have first preference at benefitting from this program while others have not benefitted. I listen to the call in shows in the morning about people saying that they tried to get in this program and still have not and that remains a travesty.”


Louis Zabaneh

Dr. Louis Zabaneh, P.U.P. Senator

“In my case it is not just that we have heard those on the radio. I have personal met people from my area across Dangriga, Sarawee, Hope Creek who have told me that they have been waiting. They have not gotten what they have been promised to get. They have applied. I am telling you what they have told me. What I have seen with my own eyes. This is not second hand information. This is very relevant to this motion because we want to ensure that these funds reach the people who are in most need.”


Michel Chebat

Michel Chebat, Lead P.U.P. Senator

“It feels almost like déjà vu as it was not even a month ago when we were here approving a loan for twelve US million dollars from the Inter American Development Bank that was geared towards the vulnerable population from our country. I ask again as I did back then, where is the money? Where is the money from this twelve million dollars go? We are talking about food. There has no disclosure as to who are the persons benefiting from these loans. Who are the persons receiving the food and that is in light of the outcry in the public that they are not receiving Mister President.”


Osmany Salas

Osmany Salas, Senator for N.G.O.s

“What does that leave for the awareness and education campaigns. We need to invest resources in spreading the message every day, constantly. Just like soon it will happen because of elections. We will start to see political ads every day. We need to see that for the awareness and education.”

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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