Posted: Thursday, December 2, 2021. 9:16 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: It’s that most wonderful time of the year – but for many it will not be quite so wonderful.
One of the singular projects of the Barrow administration was its “Christmas Cheer” program, routed through the Ministry of Human Development. Area representatives would submit requests for goods in the amount allotted by Government and the goods would be bought and distributed without any personal interference.
As we have reported, more than eight million dollars had been spent over 12 years, from Petrocaribe funds and elsewhere.
The then-opposition People’s United Party and especially area representative for Cayo South Julius Espat complained bitterly about the initiative, and in some cases refused to take the handout.
But now being in Government and weathering significant crises of his own, Espat in an interview with KREM News a few weeks ago was prepared to be more magnanimous: “I think something will happen, I believe so…the people need something. The people, all Belizeans, have endured suffering for two years; we had a bad economy, we got these storms that affected us and most of all, we are living under COVID, which is not good for anybody, and so I think we have to give something for people to feel better.”
What Christmas cheer may be different for each constituency, Espat added, the Government does need to say thank you after this difficult period.
From the Opposition United Democratic Party side, during their press conference on November 16 leader Patrick Faber said he was not opposed, but also said he’s not waiting – his constituency held a fundraiser recently for the purpose.
Faber made clear that as long as there is no abuse of the program – which he sadly expects – the UDP will not criticize such a program if it is implemented.
But it appears it will not be according to Minister Dolores Balderamos-Garcia, who told KREM News on Wednesday that representatives are free to use the Community Development Fund to create basic grocery bags, including perhaps a ham.
In her constituency of Belize Rural Central, the Minister committed to using part of the funds to do some road repairs and perhaps hire a few men to clean up public spaces across the constituency.
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