Belize receives 10 million USD to invest in education and energy
The Government of Belize is being provided with a ten million US dollar grant through the US Government’s Millennium Change Corporation (MCC) to reduce the country’s poverty rate. The funds will be invested in education and energy, to increase the number of secondary and tertiary education graduates and strengthen the country’s renewable energy sector. Last year, Belize, after being one of two countries to be selected by the MCC, signed an initial engagement agreement that provided GOB with 750,000 to conduct a rigorous assessment of the country’s economic restraints. And, last night, the country signed a second compact agreement to receive the five-year grant. Prime Minister John Briceno explained that his administration is fully committed to achieving the goals of the grant particularly reducing poverty by tying education to economic growth.
Hon. John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize: “The Millennium Challenge Corporation or the MCC is a US Government funded agency that provides grant funding to countries for programs to reduce poverty through economic growth and that is a centerpiece of what we have in Plan Belize that we said that one of the things we want to do is to reduce our poverty by 50% in ten years and we realize that the only way to do that is to be able to grow the economy and to be able to create opportunities for people, put people back to work but at the same time we’re recognizing that it’s not only about reducing poverty by growing the economy but also education plays a key role for us to be able to achieve those goals. So I believe that we were selected because through early in our administration or just one year in government we were seen as an administration that were showing our commitment to improving democracy, reducing the rising poverty rate, addressing the significant challenges to economic growth and mitigating the vulnerabilities to external shocks. Sounds quite sophisticated but simply means that here we are doing what we believe is right to get Belize back on the right track. These are all actions that fulfill the criteria to qualify a country for grant funding by the MCC. So as we continue with the work ahead we will continue to develop projects, design and implement these projects based on economic priorities which are set out in Plan Belize.”
US Ambassador to Belize, Michelle Kwan, says that the agreement is a testament to the enduring friendship and strong diplomatic ties shared between both countries.
Michelle Kwan, U.S. Ambassador to Belize: “Over the years the United States and Belize have worked closely together on a wide range of issues from security to counter narcotics, to environmental protection and disaster relief. Through this agreement we will be working to improve the whole education system in Belize to ensure that every child has access to higher quality education. We will also be working to expand access to specialized education and training to help equip young people with the skills they need to succeed in the workplace. But we also know that education is only one part of the equation and that is why we will also be working to lower the cost of electricity in Belize to help reduce the burden on families and businesses. We believe that access to affordable energy is fundamental to growth and we’re committed to helping make it a reality in Belize. I want to take a moment to recognize the incredible work of the FCC team who have worked tirelessly to make this agreement a reality. Their dedication and hard work are truly inspiring and I know that they will continue to be an invaluable partner with Belize as we move forward with this initiative. I also want to thank the Prime Minister who has been a strong partner and advocate for this agreement. His leadership and vision have been essential in bringing this initiative to fruition and I know he will continue to be a driving force as we work together to further develop the compact. We are a very proud partner with the Government and people of Belize on this very important initiative.”
The MCC’s Vice President of the Latin American Region, Jonathan Brooks, explained that the team, through a constraints analysis, was able to conduct extensive research to identify the areas where Belize’s economy can be bolstered.
Jonathan Brooks, Deputy Vice President of Latin America, MCC: “MCC, Millennium Challenge Corporation is an independent United States Government agency. We have a singular mission which is reducing poverty through economic growth. We seek to do that through a very as you heard earlier rigorous and analytical process that includes a very close partnership with the partner country in this case Belize. I also applaud and second Ambassador Kwan’s comments regarding the strength and the support that we have continued to receive as part of this ongoing compact development process. MCC’s programs seek to not only address short term challenges but really set the foundation for addressing the challenges that are keeping a country like Belize from sustained inclusive and sustainable economic growth for all of its people. Since January 2022 our teams have been working assiduously together to identify what those constraints are, unpack what the root causes are and identify potential solutions to address them.”