Sticking with news coming out of the COP-26 Summit::: Eight million dollars – that is how much was granted to Belize through the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The project proposal was named Resilience Rural Belize and was signed in 2018. CEO in the Ministry of Economic Development and Investment, Dr Osmond Martinez says the program was well designed but the implementation phase never began. CEO Martinez says only monies for salaries were used and the monies to help farmers were left untouched by the previous government and with that revelation, the previous government was asked to return the monies. However, as CEO Martinez explains, the Briceno Administration had managed to convince donors that the money will be used this time around. We asked him why he believes the government didn’t used the money back then.
Dr. Osmond Martinez, CEO, Ministry of Economic Development: “That project started in 2018 and was to be completed now in February 2022. Now GCF is saying listen if you’re not going to use that money well we have to recall it, even IFAD. IFAD had said if you’re not going to use that money we will recall the money and give it to other countries who are serious and care about their citizens and they’re very good in implementation. So Belize has been very poor in implementation. Actually IFIs have reported that 99.9% of the projects have failed in implementation.”
Reporter: But salaries were being paid. What were those people doing ?
Dr. Osmond Martinez, CEO, Ministry of Economic Development: “Nothing. Nothing. The salaries were being paid and the sad part is these monies are being used for specific targets to help the most vulnerable population, people that are living below the poverty line. In addition to that it would help the economy because it should have a domino effect you know whereby we will be producing more even to the point that maybe we could have been exporting by now certain products and even looking at niche markets but that hasn’t happened but the procurement process has started and the implementation should start in January/February.”
Reporter: So the government managed to retain those monies before expiration date. So let me ask you why wasn’t it used ?
Dr. Osmond Martinez, CEO, Ministry of Economic Development: “I think that you will have to ask that question to the former administration why it was not used. It’s very sad to say that I know that the procurement process is very rigorous where there is no self gain and we want to work for the people, we want to achieve the objective even though that proposal was done before this government came in I believe the proposal is well written it and it has very good intentions however when it comes to the time of spending the money and so it shows that there was no sympathy to care about the people of Belize.”
Reporter: How much money was spent on salaries ? Do you know ?
Dr. Osmond Martinez, CEO, Ministry of Economic Development: “Almost $4 million Belize dollars.”
CEO Martinez explained to Love News that there was a similar situation with CABEI and tens of millions of dollars that were granted to Belize were never used. Like the previous situation, for the CABEI loan, monies were used to pay salaries but not used to achieve the agreed objectives.
Dr. Osmond Martinez, CEO, Ministry of Economic Development: “The proposal was drafted in 2010. In 2013 the proposal was submitted to CABEI. In 2015 it was signed and the first disbursement came in from 2015. In 2018 the project was formulated and a project manager came in and so it’s about a million dollars that had been spent on that program and still you know the deliverables is practically zero.”
Reporter: The objectives of the program. So what will the money be used for now ?
Dr. Osmond Martinez, CEO, Ministry of Economic Development: “The monies will be used now to refurbish Price Barracks and other BDF offices or buildings around the country. Also it will help the police department I think there are about two or three more police stations that will be built from that money also it will help to refurbish some of the police stations that the police officers have. It will also help with the 9-1-1 security system that will give support to the police. Also radio transmitters. I mean amazingly the police have no radios or no towers to transmit or to communicate lets say from Punta Gorda to Belmopan only by radios or even from Punta Gorda to Halacte in Guatemala border and a forensic lab. You know a forensic lab is needed. The money had been sitting there for so many years and it had never been used and now the country also needs a DNA lab. So the DNA lab hopefully can come out of that money and also vehicles for police. I think we have within that proposal that the police should be able to get ten vehicles and BDF will be able to get ten truck lifters.”
Reporter: Again I have to ask you, why wasn’t the money used ?
Dr. Osmond Martinez, CEO, Ministry of Economic Development: “I personally it’s hard for me to answer because I was not there but the interest for the Belizean Citizens I believe that is key. I don’t think there was any interest even to contribute in helping to reduce poverty. But one of the things I can tell you that the procurement process that both IFAD and CABEI have is almost impossible to lend yourself for corruption. And so we have to ask questions why why why but the same questions that you have are the ones that I have.”
Stay tuned for more news coming out of Glasgow City.