Posted: Wednesday, February 16, 2022. 12:54 pm CST.
By Benjamin Flowers: Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) President Dr. Gene Leon and his delegation concluded his inaugural visit to Belize this week.
During his visit, Dr. Leon held discussions with Prime Minister John Briceño and Cabinet, the Central Bank of Belize, and also engaged with private sector entities including the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Citrus Growers Association, as well entities executing projects with CDB support.
The delegation also headed to southern Belize to visit project beneficiaries, the Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management (SATIIM), and TGCA. At SATIIM, presentations were delivered by women involved in the creation of the Xe’il clothing line, developed through a project financed by the CDB and targeting women’s economic empowerment. The TCGA also took the delegation for a tour of Mr. Justino Peck’s cacao farm in San Jose Village and the facilities at the Maya House of Cacao.
A key component of the visit was to meet with agencies to identify new areas for CDB partnership and support in the private sector space and called on CARICOM’s sister institution, the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center (CCCCC). Dr. Leon and the delegation also visited a number of completed and ongoing CDB project sites, including The Hub in Belize City, a community resource center constructed in the Lake Independence Area under the bank-funded Youth and Community Transformation Project; the Coastal Road Highway Upgrading Project; the Belmopan Polyclinic being constructed through the Social Investment Fund; and a display of equipment acquired under the first and second Road Safety projects.
A statement issued by the Government of Belize today noted that a major highlight of the mission was the launch of four projects aimed at enhancing trade, two of which are financed by CDB and two financed through the European Union-funded Economic Partnership Agreement & CARICOM Single Market and Economy Standby Facility with co-funding from the bank. The projects focus on improving Belize’s trade competitiveness with a view to improve trade facilitation.
“The first project will enhance Belize’s capacity to facilitate trade and will involve a study on the time taken for goods to be processed through the Customs and Excise Department, and the feasibility of establishing an electronic single window for trade in Belize. The second project involves the enhancement of the national quality infrastructure by improving the processes undertaken by the Belize Bureau of Standards (BBS). The Belize Agricultural Health Authority will benefit from the third project which will develop a risk-based sanitary and phytosanitary import and export control system; and the final project, a grant to the Toledo Cacao Growers Association (TCGA) will assist the entity in the development of its capacity to participate in the cacao-chocolate global value chain. A tour of the BBS laboratories followed the launch,” GOB said.
President Leon and Mr. Daniel Best, Director of Projects, also made media appearances discussing the ongoing work of the bank and plans for further engagement intended to benefit Belizeans. He expressed his satisfaction at the end of the trip, highlighting the alignment that exists between the vision of the new administration and the vision of the CDB, and emphasizing the he spoke to the transformative potential of the Coastal Highway Upgrading Project in mobilizing trade and impacting lives.
“We are buoyed and encouraged as the Bank’s strategic partnerships were strengthened and potential new projects identified on a successful and rewarding mission to a founding member of the Caribbean Development Bank,” Dr. Leon said.
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