Posted: Friday, February 10, 2023. 3:47 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: At its meeting in Belmopan today, the Senate considered three loan motions worth between them US$33 million (BZ$66 million), all with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
The motions are the Trade and Investment Facilitation Program for Belize – US$8 Million Loan Motion, 2023; Program for Digital Innovation to Boost Economic Development in Belize – US$10 Million Loan Motion, 2023; and Program for Sustainable and Inclusive Belize – US$15 Million Loan Motion, 2023. Each loan is amortized over 25 years with a five-and-a-half-year grace period.
Opposition Leader in the Senate Michael Peyrefitte complained that the Upper Chamber had not been made aware of what the money being borrowed for each motion is specifically being used for, attributed to an issue with the annexes to each motion not being printed in time for the meeting. If what the Government is promising is true, then that is something the Opposition can support, he added, but the details are necessary.
The first motion addresses the Government’s plans to promote Belize’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and trade performance in three areas: (i) improve investment facilitation through simplification, standardization, and automation of key investment procedures through the implementation of the Single Investment Window; (ii) improve the investment promotion and export development tools and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) internationalization through the strengthening of the trade and investment institutional apparatus; and (iii) improve trade facilitation through simplifying, standardizing, and automating key trade processes.
Senator for the Business Community, Kevin Herrera, backed the motion, stating that it had been a long time coming: “When we’re looking at bringing investors in, it is extremely frustrating and sometimes discouraging when they have to be knocking from one Ministry, one office to the other trying to figure out the process to go about these investments – to get the necessary permits, to get the necessary authorizations that they need. And so, the investment window that we have been asking for, for all these decades, was an effort to bring all of this together, so that people don’t have to be wandering around, wondering what to do,” adding that this will benefit Belizean and international potential investors. This will also boost Belize’s chances at competitiveness in investment, he said.
The second motion deals with the promotion of economic growth and efficiency by the digitalization of firms and government services, specifically promoting the growth of firms, especially women-led MSMEs, through increased adoption of digital solutions, as well as digitizing licensing processes and reducing costs in digitizing civil registration services.
The third motion addresses two components whose activities will (i) provide direct support to farmers, agricultural groups, and MSMEs for sustainable and inclusive development in the area of environmentally sustainable and climate resilient farming systems and sustainable and inclusive Agri-food markets and (ii) create an enabling environment for sustainable and inclusive tourism development to address competitiveness, sustainability, and resilience entrepreneurship barriers. Each motion was approved and is now in effect.
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