And while the air of scandal and the heat of burning issues took the headlines tonight, today’s Prime Ministerial press conference was really about Government’s response to the one month of heavy rains that have left Belize’s road and street infrastructure in a vastly deteriorated state.††The PM said it is no less than a catastrophe:

Jules Vasquez Reporting

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"It's as I said, speaking clearly, a catastrophe with respect to these rains, and it's not over yet."

Government is coming in with 2.26 million dollars as emergency repairs for the most severely affected roadways:

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"We’re talking about areas where access has been cut off and movement of people and goods severely impaired and the Ministry of Works has given to the Ministry of Finance the budget that is required to do the immediate remedial work that is necessary."

But that is only in the short term, in the long term, there is a massive three year plan to overhaul much of the country’s road infrastructure - an effort that this government hopes will become its hallmark:

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"When this programme is done, infrastructure in this country will be visibly seen to be in the best condition ever.† That programme is going to cost 76.72 million dollars. This is an extremely muscular plan; it’s a plan on steroids, but we can finance it; we can do it, and do it we will."

And those funds are going to be provided from Petro Caribe:

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"That’s going to provide a great deal of the funding for this huge, unprecedented, history-making, infrastructure improvement plan. And the concern that some people have that Petro Caribe will come to an end.† We have no indication of that.† What I want to say is that while the Venezuelans are always looking at the program, a sort of informal classification of countries, puts Belize right in to top tier in terms of the lending country’s satisfaction with the way Petro Caribe funds are being administered."

But while the money is on hand - government has proven notoriously slow to disburse it and get projects started:

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"While the need for action is immediate, and while the need for speed is undeniable, it must be deliberate speed, so that you don't 'cock up', and you don't do foolishness with the public monies. In that context, I am absolutely satisfied that we are delivering, will deliver, that with respect to what is absolutely urgent, people will see the action taking place immediately. Where we are absolutely in control, by God, things will happen."

"We propose that that 76.72 million dollars will be spent over a 3-year period, and why a 3-year period? The first year, we assume, will require the preparatory works to be completed. Most of the works that we have proposed include drainage works. Drainage works, you need to get on the ground and do your field data, and we assume that the field data will take a year to put together along with the designs. The actual implementation, the civil works aspect of it, will be completed over a 2-year period. So, that brings us to a 3-year period to complete the 76.72, and we can do it in partnership with the private sector."

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

"The Government has responded, is responding to the challenge, and we will, as far as money, effort and will can do it, put people back in a position to pick up with their lives."

Channel 7