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Landmark US$45 million loan for tertiary hospital project gains Senate approval

Posted: Tuesday, June 6, 2023. 7:14 pm CST.

By Breaking Belize News Staff: In a recent Senate session, the Briceno administration’s proposal to secure a US $45 million loan from the Saudi Fund for Development received substantial support. The loan aims to fund the construction of a tertiary-level hospital in Belmopan. While the project was welcomed by many senators, concerns were raised regarding the funding source and the allocation of resources.

The UDP’s Senior Senator, Michael Peyrefitte, expressed skepticism about borrowing funds from the Saudi government, suggesting that a grant would have been more suitable. He questioned the negotiation skills of the administration and alluded to the personal relationship between the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman and Leader of Government Business, Eamon Courtenay.

Belmopan Aggregates

NGO Senator Janelle Chanona raised concerns about the capacity of the proposed tertiary hospital. Referring to a clause in the loan agreement, she noted that the estimated annual benefit of the hospital was expected to reach around 200,000 citizens. Given the specialized nature of tertiary care, Chanona questioned whether this signaled a shift away from emphasizing primary and preventative care.

Business Senator Kevin Herrera expressed support for the establishment of a tertiary institution in Belmopan, particularly as it would provide higher-level care closer to home for many Belizeans. He remained optimistic about the loan’s potential impact on healthcare and stressed the need for thorough oversight to ensure maximum benefits and improved specialty care.

Churches Senator Bishop Alvin Benguche highlighted the urgent need for additional healthcare facilities in addressing prevalent health issues such as diabetes in Belize. He expressed his belief that the country would benefit from the construction of the tertiary hospital.

PUP Senator Chris Coye defended the loan motion, highlighting the government’s ongoing efforts to prioritize healthcare, particularly primary care and the National Health Insurance (NHI) program. He clarified that the loan was intended for capital investment, not recurring expenses, and criticized the notion of diverting funds to other areas.

Leader of Government Business, Eamon Courtenay, passionately advocated for the approval of the loan, emphasizing its alignment with the public interest, the well-being of the Belizean people, and the provision of care for the sick and vulnerable.

Following the Senate debate, the loan motion was ultimately passed, granting approval for the US $45 million loan to proceed. This marked a significant step towards the realization of the flagship tertiary hospital project in Belmopan, signaling the government’s commitment to improving healthcare infrastructure and addressing the country’s healthcare needs.

 

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