Funds have finally been approved for the construction of a new national basketball facility for Belize. The House of Representatives granted Government permission to enter into a loan agreement with the Caribbean Development Bank for US$5.2 million. Prime Minister Barrow said, “the purpose of the loan is to improve citizen and community security in Belize City,” and the objective of the project is to “reduce vulnerability of children and youth to crime and gang membership in the Collet, Lake I, Pickstock and Port Loyola Divisions of Belize City”.

When the Belize National Basketball Team returned home from the COCABA Championships with silver medals in August of 2009, Prime Minister Barrow promised to build a quality basketball facility saying, “The achievement of Team Belize deserves no less.” Since then he has attached that promise to him on many visits to international allies and has been promised tremendous support. However, there is always a level of uncertainty in diplomatic discussions because, fortunately or unfortunately, Governments change. Promises to help finance and even to build the facility have not come to fruition; therefore, Prime Minister Barrow decided to reach out to the Caribbean Development Bank to finance the project. The basketball facility will be built as part of the project that will link Lake Independence to the Belama area. It also features a drop-in center for youths that will seek to “enhance literacy and adaptive life skills, support conflict mediation and promote inter-linkages and the sharing of best practices among participating agencies working in those communities.”

The “Caribbean Development Bank Youth and Community Transformation Project Loan” will be totally disbursed by October 31st of 2017. Government will repay at 2.5% per annum on the outstanding portion of the loan by making 80 equal and consecutive quarterly installments, the first of which will be made ten years after the date of the loan agreement. As part of the loan agreement, Government is obligated to construct the road and bridge that will connect Chetumal Street to Lake Independence.

The President of the Caribbean Development Bank was in Belize when the national team was playing for gold in Cancun in 2009. Prime Minister Barrow said at that time, “One of the first things I said to him was in terms of the new lending program- the Belizean projects that we will put in the pipeline- can you lend for a basketball facility and he said that in the context of urban rejuvenation, in the context of the social problems that we are having in Belize City, he thought the answer was yes.” Prime Minister Barrow has delivered.

The Guardian