Minister of State Hon. Santiago Castillo in first major announcement.

The Punta Gorda Town Hall and the adjacent administration building are to be repaired and renewed as part of Government's $30 million Belize Municipal Development Project (BMDP). A contract for $425,150 for this project was signed in Punta Gorda Town last Thursday morning, March 22.

The Punta Gorda project will begin in the next two weeks and will mark the official start of the Municipal Development Project countrywide.

The long-awaited project will bring much needed infrastructure development to seven municipalities in Belize.

In the first phase of the project, Pampano and Robert O. Pennel Streets in P.G. will be rehabilitated.

Work is expected to begin in June, and a second phase should start next year. P.G. residents will have the opportunity to prioritize the important projects to be funded in the second phase.

The Government of Belize is financing the Municipal Development Project through a loan from the World Bank. The project is intended to improve access to the town's basic infrastructure and to enhance municipal management in Belmopan, Benque Viejo del Carmen, San Ignacio and Santa Elena, Dangriga, Punta Gorda, Corozal and Orange Walk.

In a keynote address, Minister of State Santiago Castillo Jr. highlighted a line of projects which the Government had accomplished in the Toledo District and said the P.G. rehabilitation would continue this development trend.

"The launching and signing of the contract for the Punta Gorda Town Council is yet another testament of the government's commitment to improving public infrastructure while remaining resolute to our pledge to social justice, to open, honest and transparent government, to provide deeper meaning to Belizean nationalism and to bring greater progress to the Toledo District," Castillo said.

He also announced that the government is about to launch a $1.4 million dollar project to renovate the Dangriga Town market. Other municipalities will follow, he said.

"As we begin our second term in office, the government has renewed and strengthened its efforts to engage its social partners to secure more projects for Belize. We are also committed to ensure responsible stewardship of our natural heritage while ensuring that all Belizeans benefit from the economic prosperity offered by sustainable development.

"But above all, we have strengthened our commitment and programs to ensure that they are always for the benefit of the people," he concluded.

SIF's Daniel Cano, PG Mayor Anthony Fuentes and Deputy Mayor Simon Paulino also addressed the gathering.

The Reporter