A motion to have the Government of Belize guarantee a thirteen-million-dollar loan was tabled this morning during the Sitting of the House of Representatives. The loan is being acquired by the Belize Electricity Limited to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases and to improve on their infrastructure to provide and maintain a reliable supply of electricity for the residents in Caye Caulker. Area Representative for Freetown, Francis Fonseca had no objections to the guarantee but did indicate that many areas are still without electricity. Fonseca went further to state that BEL is not being managed effectively.
Hon. Francis Fonseca, Freetown Area Representative, People’s United Party: “While we on this side express our support for the CDB Power project and the stated objective of the loan, which is to provide a more reliable supply of electricity to Caye Caulker we also wish to take the opportunity, whenever these opportunities arise to speak about BEL to again place on the record as we have many many times before our deep concern that too many villages, particularly in the Toledo district remain without electricity – my colleagues down south have raised this consistently. And also Madam Speaker in my own constituency tried over and over to get electricity for Belama Phase 4 but nothing has been done since 2008, that is a residential community, it’s a growing community and again we place on the record the need for that to be addressed Madam Speaker. Finally Madam Speaker we discussed in our caucus, we have concerns about the fact that there’s a lot of waste and mismanagement taking place at BEL, last year I believe the company recorded losses of over $4 million dollars and based on the preliminary reports for this year it seems to be heading in the same direction, they will report losses again so we use this opportunity as well to place on the record how important it is for the government to take a serious, critical look at the management of BEL to ensure that the company is more effectively and efficiently run.”
Responding to Fonseca’s concerns was Prime Minister Dean Barrow. According to Barrow, those areas without light have not gone unnoticed.
Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize: “On Independence Day I read out a long list of the villages that had been electrified over the past few years by BEL, I also recited the list of villages that will be electrified in the immediate future. Now that doesn’t necessarily help the member from Toledo West but it does make the point that this is a work in progress, it is an ongoing enterprise and BEL will continue to do it’s best to complete the process of electrifying the entire country. I certainly take issue with the member for Freetown’s characterization of BEL as being inefficiently or wastefully managed that absolutely is not the case. The last CEO, from all accounts, did an excellent job there is now a new CEO and he has started off going great guns. The members on the other side must also remember that while BEL is majority nationally owned, Fortis, the international company has a 33.3% stake in BEL shareholding, we are on the board and they are there as watchdogs if you will- they are concerned about the bottom line and they will certainly not tolerate any inefficiency or any wasteful management which would affect their dividends, their profits. So I absolutely reject that particular notion.”
The project will include a submarine cable feasibility study, land acquisition, a connecting infrastructure to Ambergris Caye, decommissioning and removal of the diesel engines in Caye Caulker and measures to ensure environmental impact mitigation and a climate risk vulnerability assessment.