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Belize gets back loan funds used for flooding; details of spending to be released

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Posted: Sunday, December 5, 2021. 2:10 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: A loan motion presented by the Government at Friday’s meeting of the House of Representatives covers what is officially a US$2.5 million loan taken with the Caribbean Development Bank to fund repairs and other expenses from the damage caused by Hurricanes Eta and Iota just before the 2020 general election.

According to the Prime Minister, “…basically it is just a refund for monies that we spent… Whilst we spent the money, the CDB said that we can spend it and then once we show them that we’ve spent the money they were going to refund it, so basically that’s all that we’re doing. All we’re going to do is refund for monies that we have already spent, based on a loan.”

Patrick Faber, Leader of the Opposition, made note that the Government spent far more than that at the time and that there needs to be accountability: “… if you’ve given out millions of dollars in contracts what they said, Mr. Speaker, was that it’s an emergency, it’s an emergency, so we don’t have time to put out all the tenders and do everything that is needed to do according to the books and they find loopholes in the system to assign these contract so we would like to know, where exactly did these monies go, can you provide us with the contracts, can you be very transparent and open with the monies that the CDB have loaned us for this disaster?”

In response, Julius Espat, Minister of Infrastructure Development noted that $12.5 million was in fact spent and that the details were with the Contractor General, whose first report of his term was submitted and laid on the House table on Friday.

He further explained, “…the Contractor General… was requesting from our Ministry that our report not be made public until the Contractor General could submit his report. The Contractor General has now submitted his report and therefore, the document that we provided will be made public.”

He also noted that the Contractor General was pleased by the level of detail provided him and that the Ministry was now released and could satisfy public demand for the contracts.

 

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