DFC brings hope to the people of San Pedro

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 10, No. 39            October 26, 2000

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The key question at the moment is, where can those who suffered the most damage to their homes or businesses apply for assistance? To answer this question, Mayor Nuñez directed the San Pedro Sun to a meeting at the Lions Den on Tuesday, where the Development Finance Corporation (DFC) gave a presentation. 

    Conducting the meeting was Area Representative Patty Arceo who was accompanied by Minister Dickey Bradley; Mayor Alberto Nuñez; Mr. Juvencio Rivero, Central Branch Manager of Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and Miss Martha Sabido, Office Administrator for Belize Rural South.

    Area Representative Patty Arceo welcomed the over 40 people present and informed them that the purpose of the meeting was to keep the promise made by Prime Minister Musa of facilitating 200 houses in San Pedro. With the assistance of the Prime Minister, arrangements have been made with DFC to provide families affected by the hurricane with loans to repair their businesses and loans to repair or rebuild their houses.

    Ms. Arceo went on to mention that there are two types of projects. The first being the New Housing Construction where you can build on your own lot either by selecting from the contractor's designs, by using your own designs or by asking for additional designs available at the Belize Rural South office. This project is expected to commence in only a matter of weeks. Applicants may also access a pre-fabricated house at the San Pablo subdivision. This project will take a little more time to commence (an estimated five months). In the first case, you will need a title or leasehold interest to the land on which the house is to be constructed. Timber and concrete houses have been designed by four contractors (Plett & Plett, Bradley & Bradley, Jesus Castillo and Thomas Santos) ranging from $10,029 to $53,249 depending on size and amount of bedrooms (detailed information is available at the Belize Rural South office). The second program is called Repair to House. DFC is also offering this and depending on the amount of the loan. Applicants may or may not need a title or leasehold interest on land. Terms of the loan are: 20 years at 8 1/2% or 12% interest. The interest rate depends on the amount of the loan required. Loans of $43,000 or less qualify for the 8 1/2% interest plan. The Area Representative urged those in need to take advantage of this opportunity but reminded them eligibility is a DFC decision.

    Minister Bradley applauded the efforts of the people of San Pedro saying that he was impressed with what he saw on the island. His presence at this meeting was to offer the Mayor, Town Council and Area Representative the assistance of the Government of Belize as soon as possible. He stated that the evaluation of this terrible situation has to be completed before government can make decisions. He also mentioned that government's main priority is to feed the people in other parts of the country who have been severely affected by flooding and have no means of getting food. Minister Bradley also responded to some of the concerns by telling those gathered to stand up and help themselves before depending on others.

    Mr. Riverol of DFC explained that DFC is here to work together with the people of San Pedro and urged them to take advantage of DFC's offers. He pointed out some of the benefits and explained the lower and higher income programs. Interested persons who have their property mortgaged may also apply for a loan. DFC would consider taking a first mortgage or second mortgage loan. Those who have their own design need to present a plan and estimate when applying for a loan. Mr. Rivero advised all those interested in applying, to bring with them a copy of their passport or identification card, a letter from their employer to show monthly earnings and a copy of their design and estimate. If self-employed, the person applying and DFC will determine monthly earnings. At this time, an estimated 50 applications have been received. Loans given out by DFC are insured with replacement value and will cover mortgage cancellation. Those who are eligible for a loan have two ways of paying for their house. If they bring their own design with a plan and estimate, there is an option of having the contractor sign a contract with the person whose loan has been approved, for the disbursement of the money. Payments are given to the contractor under the supervision of DFC. Payments are made in phases except for the last disbursement which is given after approximately 98% of the house is completed. This is done to safeguard the client. The other option is to give the money directly to the person whose loan has been granted and they would be responsible for paying the contractor.

    Before the meeting ended, the Area Representative informed the gathering that she was making arrangements for a permanent lands officer in San Pedro. Mayor Alberto Nuñez then officially closed the meeting by thanking all who attended. The general public is advised that DFC is available in San Pedro at the Belize Rural South office for those needing more information on the housing project.

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