In our coverage of today's House Meeting - you've already seen all the stuff the members argued about - but one thing they did agree on was the 17 million dollar loan guarantee for the South Ambergris Caye Water and Sewerage Expansion project.
If you don't live on the island - you might now know it, but San Pedro has serious water shortages - especially during peak visitor periods such as Easter. The loan fund from the CDB will be for BWSL to buy over the island's water company - Consolidated Water Belize Limited and upgrade the water supply.
The acting Prime Minister explained:...
Hon. Patrick Faber- Acting Prime Minister
"This will benefit tremendously the residents of the Ambergris Caye. We have in the galleries the chairman of the Belize Water Services Ltd. of Belize and the Chairman assures me, madam speaker, that there is a lot that is being spent right now. And the Belizean people must know that the consolidated company, Consolidated Water Ltd, is a private entity now and it charges the BWSL a significant amount of money to provide water and sewage services to the residents of Ambergris Caye. I am told it is about $600 thousand on a monthly basis, madam speaker. Imagine when the BWSL, which is owned by the government, owns now this water system and in fact improves the water system. Every good Belizean knows, especially around Easter time when you go to San Pedro you have to be rationing off the water because the capacity of the water system there is not able to hold all the desires. You can't shower every day, you have to shower every other day; around Easter time in San Pedro. But with the kind of investments that this loan will make for BWSL, madam speaker, the people of the entire Ambergris Caye, I am told, will benefit."
The loan is being undertaken by BWS with Government as the Guarantor.
8.5 million US dollars for San Pedro WASA
The CDB funded Belize Water Services Limited Loan for 8.5 million US dollars is to purchase the shares of Consolidated Water Belize Limited, expand the existing water treatment plant; retrofit the San Pedro water and sewage system; supply and install water distribution pipelines; water transmission mains; sewage collection pipelines; water service connections; and sewer connections; and supply and installation of a 41 kilowatt photovoltaic generation system. And though this loan motion had support of the Government and the Opposition, there was still organized chaos in the House.
Acting Prime Minister Patrick Faber: “Madam Speaker this motion has the recommendation of the Cabinet. I recognize the honorable Leader of the Opposition. Madam Speaker I certainly have no issue in providing and supporting the government’s request that we give a guarantee for this loan but maybe this would be good opportunity since WASA is asking from the government a guarantee so they can get his $8.5 million US to do a much needed expansion for water in San Pedro. Maybe that would be a good opportunity for us then to ask WASA to work with us with the Fire Hydrants because we have massive problems with fire hydrant problem in this country, for instance in Orange Walk it was found out that the Fire Hydrant that’s right in front of the house that it was closed of when WASA…”
Acting Prime Minister Patrick Faber: “Madam Speaker the point of order, that matter has nothing to do with this. The members on that other side has ample enough opportunity at the end of the meeting to rise on matters of National importance and they are free to do so at the point.”
Madam Speaker: “Thank you.”
Leader of the Opposition John Bricenio: “Madam Speaker I am using the opportunity to say that if WASA is asking us then to do this then maybe this is a time we can get WASA to agree to put more fire hydrants across this country.”
Madam Speaker: “Yes but the point is that you can bring it up later.”
Leader of the opposition John Briceno: “Santa Elena and San Ignacio only have 12 fire hydrants, Benque Viejo has none.
Madam Speaker: “Honorable Opposition Leader, Honorable Opposition Leader.”
Leader of the opposition John Briceno: “No no but we can use this opportunity to..”
Madam Speaker: “Excuse me Honorable Opposition Leader you have enough time to bring that up just proceed with the subject matter.”
Speaker: “We are debating yes it is a point of interest madam Speaker, we are debating a bill whereas BWSL is getting money’s, getting loan funds and this leader of the opposition is saying how he believe those loan funds can be better utilized or expanded, how is that not relevant.
Acting prime Minister: Madam Speaker it is not relevant because BWSL is getting the loan for a particular and specific purpose which is to improve the water system in Ambergris Caye. If they want to raise a point about fire hydrants that can be done at a later date.
Madam Speaker: Yes thank you acting Prime Minister, Honorable Opposition Leader kindly proceed with the actual debate.
Opposition leader: “But to make the point the honorable member from Belmopan said with NEWCO they use the tax as a strategy to force them to come to the negotiating table. This could be a strategy we are given the support but they offer Fire Hydrants for the country of Belize, what is so difficult about that.
Madam Speaker: “Okay I am still asking you to proceed Opposition Leader with with the actual issue because then you have an opportunity again so kindly proceed please.”
Opposition Leader: “This is my point I want to make it abundantly clear that we do support what the are asking, the guarantee but at the same time I am saying let us ask WASA since we are giving you the support, expand and fix the fire hydrants. Your honor people houses are burning down, we have water to help protect people’s lives, that’s all I am saying, what so wrong with that, anyway Madam Speaker I have my point.”
BWSL to Purchase Consolidated Water Belize in San Pedro
A loan for roughly seventeen million Belize dollars is being guaranteed by government for Belize Water Services Limited to acquire shares in Consolidated Water Belize Limited in San Pedro. The privately held utility company on Ambergris Caye will be bought by BWSL and its system expanded to provide potable water, as well as sewerage, to residents on the island. The move comes after years of complaints by consumers of a shortage of water on the island during peak seasons of the year. Today, Acting Prime Minister Patrick Faber introduced a motion in the house which will trigger the acquisition of the company. That motion was agreed to by Leader of the Opposition John Briceño who also raised concerns about fire hydrants in places such as San Pedro and Orange Walk towns.
Patrick Faber, Acting Prime Minister
“And whereas the bank has offered a loan of U.S. eight million, five hundred and seven thousand dollars to Belize Water Services Limited, BWSL, on the condition, among others, that the loan shall be guaranteed by the Government of Belize and whereas the purpose of the loan is to purchase the shares of Consolidated Water Belize Limited, expand the existing water treatment plant, retrofit the San Pedro water and sewerage system, supply and install water distribution pipelines, water transmission mains, sewage collection pipelines, water service connections and sewer connections and supply and installation of forty-one KW photovoltaic generation system and whereas the terms and conditions of the loan are as follows: U.S. eight million five hundred and seventeen thousand dollars from the bank’s ordinary capital resources to be repaid in forty equal or approximately equal and consecutive quarterly installments on each due date, commencing on the first due date two years after the loan agreement.”
John Briceño, Leader of the Opposition
“Maybe this would be a good opportunity since [BWSL] is asking from the government a guarantee so that they can get this eight point five million dollars U.S. to do a much needed expansion for water in San Pedro. Maybe that could be a good opportunity for us to then ask [BWSL] to work with us with the fire hydrants because we have a massive problem with fire hydrants across the country. For instance in Orange Walk during the fire, we found out that the fire hydrant that’s right in front of the house that it was closed off.”