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Government to request support from the house for supplemental appropriations of $12 million for emergency infrastructure repairs

The tropical wave that started affecting the country on August 17th brought heavy rains across the country. A briefing from Cabinet has now confirmed that the severe weather caused floods resulting in millions in damage in areas of northern and central Belize. Following the passage of the bad weather, the government is requesting $12 million to cover the costs caused by the tropical wave.

According to the official report from the Cabinet, the severe weather on August 17th and 18th caused significant flooding resulting in damage to national highways and primary feeder roads. Following an assessment, the government says it needs $12 million to address these emergencies. However, the money is not readily available. During this week's Special Sitting of the House of Representatives on Wednesday, August 24th, Prime Minister Honorable Dr. John Brice´┐Żo is expected to request supplemental appropriations in the said amount for emergency infrastructure repairs. The motion to acquire these additional funds is expected to be supported in the National Assembly.

Click here to read the rest of the article in the San Pedro Sun

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Why MIDH Needs 12 Mil After Two Days Of Rain

Apart from the 76 million for the BISL settlement, there were two supplementary appropriations bills approved by the house today.

They are for a total of 16 million dollars, and the majority of that - 12 million - is for damage to the country's national highways and primary feeder roads caused by the tropical wave that passed over Belize one week ago and caused significant flooding.

Minister of Infrastructure Development and Housing Julius Espat told us what the monies will be used for:

Hon. Julius Espat, Area Representative, Cayo South
"The flooding was overnight, meaning it was 2 days and it highlighted the weaknesses in our infrastructure system, What most people are not aware is that the villagers like us in the urban areas have a need to get from their houses to work, to school and vice versa. What we have noted is that there is a lack of proper drainage and culverts in all of these villages that I mentioned and so the emphasis is on that, to be able to go to the foundation of the problem instead of just trying to do a band aid type solution. Everybody that you speak of in the country that is knowledgeable on infrastructure from the villagers to the engineers all agree that we as Belizeans and as a government need to invest more in draining our communities. There are some communities though that it doesn't matter how much drains or culverts you put in are built in low lying areas and that adds additional problems."

"12 million dollars for a hard-working Belizean that is having a difficult time even surviving is a lot of money. I understand that and I feel for them, but 12 million dollars when you put it in the context of infrastructure is extremely minimal when you are dealing with 3,000 miles of roads that we have responsibility for and so the 12 million wasn't a magic number, it was a number that the ministry of finance alerted us that they had available and so we sat with our engineers couple days, yesterday was the last meeting we had where all the zone engineers and the district supervisors came in with their detail report. Ofcourse all the districts wanted part of this, but we made them understand that the emphasis would be on the 3 areas that were mostly affected."

Reporter
"And will there be a financial report afterwards to see how this, because as my colleague mentioned 12 million for an overnight of rains, a lot of people they want to see the justification for this. So will a financial report be put out after the repairs are done?"

Hon. Julius Espat, Area Representative, Cayo South
"We are on record. The last emergency funding, I think your boss was the one that requested that financial report and we did do one and it was presented to the contractor general, it was presented to cabinet and the house and to him. Definitely one will be done for this one and if you notice in the presentation that I made I went into details as to where the monies will be spent and the financial report that you all will receive and I will make sure that all of you have a copy of it once the contractor general gives the go ahead that we can release it will be even more detailed, because it will give you the names of the contractors, the areas that was done, the amount of culverts bought and the prices."

UDP Says Supplementary Needs Balance

So did the opposition support the supplementary spending? They kinda did - but urged some balance in spending on more than just roads:

Hon. Shyne Barrow, Leader of the Opposition
"We have a human development debt to pay. We have a social debt to pay, but we have a human development emergency that the constituency fund does not satisfy, it is not enough. I am grateful. I have gone on record to give my thanks. Every time I write to get my constituency fund, I offer my gratitude, but it is not enough and you always come into the house and pretend to be so smart and you know everything, then all I am asking for are the solutions to the human development crisis that we have and in this supplementary as in previous supplementaries $26,000 for human development. That is inhumane and I don't want to hear any longer that the government doesn't have it, because every house meeting you are spending more and more money and if you have 76 million dollars to pay a debt that I agree we should pay, let us pay our debt to the Belizean people that are suffering and punishing, because the cost of living is higher than ever."

Hon. Tracy Taegar-Panton, UDP Albert Rep.
"This is now for this fiscal year the 3rd supplementary budget that has come to the national assembly. I would like to proposed to the Honourable Prime Minister that perhaps we need to have a formal re-budgeting exercise that takes into account all these bits and pieces that keep popping up that were not considered in the approved estimates. I see no or very little I should say for the ministry of home affairs and new growth industries, crime is a real and present danger and I would be happy to support this budget if there was more money put into crime prevention."

"14 million dollars for feeder roads and streets. I know the farmers Mr. Speaker need the rain, so our crops can grow that we can supply our tourism and local markets with fresh produce, but I pray that we don't have any more rains anytime soon - 14 million dollars in 2 days. I too in the spirit of transparency and accountability and even though the member from Cayo South did outline some numbers for us this morning and spoke to specific areas that this 14 million dollars would cover. 12 million dollars, 2 days of rain. What happens if we have a week of rain or 3 weeks of rain or God forbid if we have a major natural disaster."

Channel 7



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