Posted: Sunday, August 13, 2023. 9:01 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: A US$77 million loan from the Saudi Fund will fund the construction of a 60-megawatt solar power plant at the junction of the Coastal Road and George Price Highway, which the Government hopes will reduce dependence on outside sources of energy, specifically Mexico.
Outside the House, Prime Minister John Briceño revealed that “It is going to be owned by the government and the government is going to operate it. BEL [Belize Electricity Limited] is going to be paying for the electricity it will produce and that money that BEL, instead of paying CFE [Comision Federal de Electricidad, of Mexico], they’ll be paying [the operating] company, whatever the name it will have, and that money is going to be used to pay the loan.”
Freetown’s Francis Fonseca argued in support of the loan motion that the United Democratic Party (UDP) failed to advance renewable energy plans during its time in government because they allegedly could not find a way to profit personally: “…we’ll have to get to the bottom of this and reveal some of these things to the Belizean people. They formed all kinds of companies, the elite few around the government, the connected ones, you know who they are. They were involved in every public utility. They formed companies to get involved in the solar energy sector and when they couldn’t figure out a way for the thing to hustle through these projects, they just said well, we won’t do anything.” He added that sustainable development and harnessing the power of the green and blue economies dictate supporting projects such as these.
But the UDP’s Moses “Shyne” Barrow complained once more that the current Government continues to borrow for the wrong priorities: “What about the urgency of our magistrates and our judicial officers that are underpaid? Why isn’t there a fast track to get monies to strengthen our judiciary? So again, there is a constant mis-prioritization by this government from its inception. This is a government that spends over 200 million dollars in one budget on infrastructure that they said we could not eat. That was their cry, infrastructure is nowhere in their manifesto Plan Belize. Yet they are spending over 200 million dollars on infrastructure and they have cut the member from Caribbean Shores’ budget and we have a state of emergency, because people are killing people left and right.”
According to Channel 7 News, BEL was reportedly not consulted, while regulator the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) responded on Thursday stating, “GOB and the PUC continue to engage in meaningful discussions to fine-tune plans to facilitate the new solar plant as part of ongoing efforts to diversify energy supply in Belize,” suggesting that they have no objection in principle.
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