Inter-American Development Bank President, Luis Alberto Moreno met today with Belize Prime Minister, Dean Barrow, to exchange information and provide an overview of the IDB’s activities in the country.
President Moreno and Prime Minister Barrow also discussed the current IDB portfolio as well as future projects for Belize. The current IDB Country Strategy with Belize for the period 2013-2017 has four priority areas: education; tourism; transport; and trade and tax policy.
This year the IDB and the Belize Government are preparing two new loans in the education and transport sectors for a total of US$30 million. The “Education Quality Improvement Program” was approved by the IDB on June 12 for a total of US$10 million.
This program seeks to improve the quality of primary education and the governance of Belize’s education system by training teachers so they can adopt innovative and best practices; developing and implementing an Education Management Information System; and improving the profile of teacher candidates.
The second project involves the rehabilitation of sections of the George Price Highway and is expected to be approved in November 2014. The project aims to improve road connectivity within and between Belize’s main districts and with Central America by bringing the George Price Highway’s infrastructure to international standards, improving road safety, and ensuring better climate change resilience of the corridor.
After his meeting with the Prime Minister, President Moreno visited the Cayo Welcome Center in San Ignacio and Santa Elena, one of several infrastructure projects financed by the IDB as part of the Sustainable Tourism Program (STP). Inaugurated on March 7, 2013.
The Cayo WelcomeCenter functions both as a tourist destination and as a hub for area tourism services and accommodations. The Welcome Center and park also provide a much appreciated social meeting place for local residents.
The STP, a five-year program completed in January 2014, sought to increase the contribution of tourism to national economic growth in an environmentally and socially responsible manner through infrastructural investments in key tourism destinations and the development of a National Sustainable Tourism Master Plan. IDB supported Belize in this project with a loan for US$13 million.
During his visit, President Moreno was accompanied by Belize’s Minister of Tourism, Culture and Civil Aviation, Jose Manuel Heredia, Jr. and San Ignacio and Santa Elena Mayor John August, as well as by senior representatives of the Ministries of Tourism and Finance and Economic Development.
The delegations toured the Welcome Center and discussed the impact it has generated for the municipality of San Ignacio/Santa Elena and the Cayo District.
Discussions also focused on additional IDB investments in the Cayo District including the Xunantunich Welcome Center, facility upgrades at Cahal Pech Mayan Ruin and ATM (Actun Tunichil Mukal Maya Site), as well as the San Ignacio transfer station (Solid Waste Management Program).
The IDB’s current loan portfolio consists of six investment loans for US$48.1 million; of which US$17 million have been disbursed. The portfolio includes the recently approved education program as well as loans to support flood mitigation in Belize City, water and sanitation upgrades in the Placencia Peninsula, a community action for public safety program, and solid waste management in the country’s Western corridor.
Loan disbursements are projected to reach US$6.6 million in 2014, which represents 21 percent of the available balance of the portfolio.
The IDB country office in Belize actively monitors the performance of the portfolio and supports the executing agencies in the implementation of these and a number of attendant technical assistance programs.