IDB's Executive Vice President Nancy Birdsall and Prime Minister the Right Hon. Manuel Esquivel signed the loan agreement for the Land Administration project for $902,000US and the technical cooperation grant for $350,000US. The Land Administration project loan will improve the land tenure and records systems. Which includes computerization of leases, titles and financial records. The grant for the Youth Training program for $792,000US was signed by the Prime Minister and Jose Teixeira, IDB's representative in Belize. The Youth Training program grant will be used to help young people receive training to become entrepreneurs and build skills suited for the job market. Alvin Henderson of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Renaldo Guerrero of BIM signed the memorandum of understanding. The Trade Promotion and Business Development Project grant is geared towards strengthening and supporting small enterprises such as the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and BIM. Birdsall also presented a donation of $10,000BZ to Mr. John Morris of the Cultural Center to the Belize Museum Council.
On July 10th, Nancy Birdsall and a delegation traveled to Punta Gorda to meet with the Environmental and Social Technical Assistance Project (ESTAP) steering committee members, government and environmental officials to gain insight into the project funded by IDB. The delegation also meet with ESTAP's steering committee and NGO's representatives. According to Birdsall, the visit enabled them to learn and see about the progress that is being made by the Government of Belize and the people affected by the project to improve the southern highway and also to see the progress ESTAP is making."Because of the meetings we had with the steering committee in Punta Gorda and Stann Creek and ESTAP we learned the concerns and the ambitions of the people who will be affected by the project," Birdsall explained. "I was surprised by the communities support and wanted to ensure they will be part of the project as it is taking place. The people in the communities understand that the road will bring improvement to their lives." She also made mention of a meeting with the Prime Minister and Cabinet concerning a 5 million dollar a year program that will benefit the Environment and Tourism, Agriculture and Agru-businesses and the Private Sector.
Yvonne Hyde, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Economic Development, commented that the meetings with ESTAP have involved extensive communication. "The representatives of the various communities have voiced their needs and priorities," Hyde said."We realize the importance of the contributions they have made to the project."
Belize joined the IDB in 1992 and is its newest member. Belize has benefitted from several technical cooperation grants. The first loan to Belize was approved in March of 1997 for $2.6 million for the ESTAP project to pave and improve the Southern Highway. The loan is in an effort to promote sustainable development in the southern region of the country and addressing environmental, community concerns and hopes to ease possible impacts of rapid social and environmental changes.