Belize Signs US$45 Million Development Loan with Saudi Arabia for Belmopan Tertiary Hospital
Chairman of the board of directors of the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) has signed a development loan agreement with Belize for forty five million US dollars to construct a tertiary hospital in Belmopan. Prime Minister John Briceno met today with Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Tourism, Ahmed Al Khateeb, who is currently in Belize. The tertiary care facility planned for Belmopan has met opposition from the opposition party and from the workers’ union of the KHMH. Today, opposition leader, Shyne Barrow, says the Prime Minister is severely short sighted.
Moses “Shyne” Barrow, Leader of the Opposition: “I think the Prime Minister is a lame duck Prime Minister and he’s out to pasture. So he’s totally disconnected, totally out of touch. I would trust what the President of the KHMH Union says before I trust anything that the Prime Minister says. I would give more credence to a counter narrative if it were to come from some of the medical experts that are not a part of the government if we could get some of the other stakeholders to chime in maybe you should get in touch with the other associations and se what those medical experts have to say but certainly I raise the issue, the UDP raised the issue in the house and the union president and his membership agrees with all that we have said and I think they know best what we need. And everyone understands what we need. We need to fix what we have. KHMH is a tertiary public health facility. KHMH is charged with training doctors and doing everything that they say the new facility will do in Belmopan. So the question is after twenty eight years of not getting KHMH right the hope was that the Briceno administration would come in fix that, fix the other public health facilities and then expand. So I continue along with the UDP to associate ourselves with the medical experts that are crying foul and saying that this is a waste of $90 million.”
Just yesterday, Prime Minister Briceno spoke on the opposition faced for the new facility. He told the media that it is the union that is not sharing a long term vision.
Hon. John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize: “We have to be strategic in what we’re doing. Karl Heusner has reached probably it’s max it doesn’t have much space to expand. The idea is for us to build a new hospital in Belize probably in the Lake I area you know we have the land available so that then we can have two regional hospitals in Belize that can provide some sort of tertiary services. But the truth is that if a hurricane were to hit Belize City Belize country is going to lose it’s only tertiary level hospital so the plan and what we discussed in Plan Belize was then to set up a new regional hospital in Belmopan, the hospital in Belmopan has been condemned it’s no good, so the only way we can do is we have to redo it and so we want to do a regional hospital with tertiary services so that then that could help relieve the pressure from Karl Heusner initially to be able to take care of the Cayo district, Stann Creek district and the Toledo district so it relieves that pressure and also God forbid that we have a hurricane our patients from Karl Huesner can can shelter in Belmopan with the necessary facilities to look after them. Karl Heusner needs help ? Of course. They need more equipment ? Yes they need more equipment and we’re also working towards that. We’re working with CABEI to see if we could get some more funding to be able to do that. The issue right now with the Saudis we have just signed an agreement – we just had diplomatic relations with the Saudis in last year September at the UN we signed the diplomatic agreement between both countries and one of the first things they said well we’re prepared to help you with a project and so they’re lending us this money to build this hospital at 2% per annum, five years we pay nothing and then we have another 20 years to pay that loan so it will give us the opportunity to build that hospital and to that hospital attach a university to be able to train our doctors and nurses. So whilst I understand what the union from Karl Heusner they’re talking about they’re being a bit nearsighted.”