Government of Belize and the CDB Launch USD6.4 Million Project for Poverty Alleviation

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Today, April 11, 2013, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), in collaboration with the Belize's Ministry of Economic Development, officially launched a USD6.4 million project, which will finance a number of poverty alleviation projects throughout Belize. The project will be implemented by the Social Investment Fund (SIF). The USD5.5 million in funding provided by CDB for the project is the allocation for Belize under the Bank's Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF) which is now into its seventh cycle. A delegation from CDB, headed by Mrs. Darran Newman Belgrave, Portfolio Manager, BNTF, joined the Hon. Santiago Castillo, Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, in launching this latest cycle of the BNTF in Belize. "Today's launching illustrates the strong, warm and friendly cooperation ties between Belize and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). Economics has made us partners but our fight against poverty has made us inseparable allies. Belize, therefore, is extremely grateful to the CDB for being with us in good and in bad times, but in particular for providing the necessary funding for programmes that address the needs of the poor in Belize," Minister Castillo said. The USD5.5 million for Belize under BNTF 7 represents an increase of approximately 60% in CDB funding over the BNTF 6 programme. The USD5.5 million is in the form of grant funds, with the Government of Belize's counterpart financing bringing the total to USD6.4 million. The increase in funding means more money for projects in the three key focal areas of BNTF 7; Education/Human Resource Development, Water and Sanitation, and Access/Drainage. The funds will be targeted toward poor areas of the country, with the poorest areas receiving the most attention. "The Government of Prime Minister Dean Barrow believes and is guided by sound policies such as honesty, transparent and accountable government. It was against this backdrop that in February 4, 2011, we formally launched a USD30 million loan from the CDB, known as the SIF II loan, to finance some 110 new small scale community projects in Belize, which are currently underway and being implemented by the Social Investment Fund (SIF). When you combine the current projects under the SIF II loan, with the USD5.5 million BNTF 7, Belizeans will see a greater flurry of activity in the coming months as it relates to the implementation of projects aimed at reducing poverty in Belize," he added. The project launch took place at an official ceremony at the Belize Biltmore Plaza Hotel and preceded a two-day workshop which will focus on a number of relevant issues including CDB procurement policy and implementation procedures. Topics to be covered by the workshop include Governance and Institutional Arrangements and Development, Environment Management and Climate Change Adaptation, Project Implementation/Human Resources, Financing Plan and Administrative and Financial Management, Poverty Reduction Action Plan and Community Participation and Empowerment, Procurement, Communications and Social Marketing and Quality Assurance, Standards, and Reporting. Presenters at the workshop will include a team from CDB consisting of Dr. Idamay Denny, Operations Officer (Education); Ms. Gail Royer, Legal Counsel; Mr. Yuri Chakalall, Disaster Risk Management Specialist; Mr. Cavon White, Operations Officer (Analyst); Ms. Sophia Prescod, Programme Assistant; Mr. George Yearwood, Operations Officer (Civil Engineer); Mr. Elbert Ellis, Operations Officer (Social Analyst); Ms. Marlene Johnson, Operations Officer (Gender and Development) and Mr. Yolande Yaw, Operations Officer (Civil Engineer). Participants include staff from the SIF, the SIF Board of Directors and representatives from a wide range of community-based, governmental, non-governmental and private organisations. The BNTF Programme is a Regional grant programme for poverty reduction infrastructure and livelihood enhancement services. Over its 33 years of existence, the programme has disbursed over USD189 million Regionally. Ten countries, including Belize, currently benefit from the BNTF. The BNTF has contributed strongly to the national development of Belize through the provision of social infrastructure including resource centres, schools, health clinics, access to water, sanitation, drainage and roads. Traditionally BNTF investment in Belize has been highest in the areas of education and water supply projects with about 60% of the BNTF projects being in these sectors. The fifth cycle of the programme or BNTF 5 was concluded in 2012 with 101 projects completed at a value of approximately USD17.1 million. The Belize BNTF 6 programme is expected to be completed at the end of 2013 with 22 projects valued at USD6.6 million under this programme. CAPTION (L-R): Mrs. Yvonne Hyde, Chairperson, Project Steering Committee, BNTF; the Hon. Santiago Castillo, Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development; Mrs. Darran Newman Belgrave, Portfolio Manager, BNTF, Social Sector Division, CDB and Mr. Daniel Cano, Executive Director, SIF, Belize.

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