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Government asks for more money to address critical issues

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Posted: Friday, December 3, 2021. 12:51 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: “No one can argue that Belize is not in a far better place than one year ago,” Prime Minister John Briceño argued as he introduced the debate on a second supplementary appropriation to the General Revenue and Appropriation Act, 2021-22.

Yet, he argued, the Government has been forced to make “the least worst choice” as it continues to combat such critical issues as crime, COVID, and critical services.

To give Belizeans what they deserve – education, infrastructure, health services, and much more – the House is asked to approve the following supplementary appropriations: from Capital Two expenditure, six million to the following areas: $1.5 for food assistance; $300,000 for a grants program for the Ministry of Tourism; $3.15 million for constituency development support to find food assistance, home repairs, and even toys; $1.5 million for public officers and teachers.

To continue tackling COVID, $3 million is being requested to fund activity at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, of which $1.5 million was already allocated and $2 million to the Ministry itself.

Another $1.5 million is being asked for to support operations at the Kolbe Foundation through the Ministry of Home Affairs; the foundation is paid per prisoner and that number is going down because of various changes to laws and so the Government renegotiated the contract with the Foundation.

$1.6 million to the Ministry of Education will cover 142 current and new scholarships and financial assistance to tertiary and post-graduate students at the University of Belize, University of the West Indies, and Galen University.

$4.5 million goes to the Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Housing to support purchasing new equipment ($2.5 million) and $2 million for continued works on the Caracol Road and Haulover Bridge; the Government must also find monies to pay outstanding bills related to the Coast Guard.

The Prime Minister also brought up the matter of payment of land acquisition, prompting an intervention by Leader of the Opposition Patrick Faber. We’ll have more on this later but Briceño did point out that the amount the Government is paying $24 million on land acquisitions – which he says is more than the entire amount he ever paid while Minister of Natural Resources for nine years – because there are binding contracts and threats of court action.

Under Capital Three, $1.3 million is repayment to the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) on a previous issue of interest and funds to correct issues with salary in the Attorney General’s Ministry subject to the 10 percent pay cut on all public officers and teachers; $1.8 million to the Public Service for rentals of offices and utilities and $12 million for payment of utilities including maintenance of street lights.

 

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