Yesterday, Senators at the National Assembly approved a US six-point two million dollar loan motion that was used for Belize’s Covid-19 Emergency Response Project. The government approached the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development for funds to implement the project. The funds were provided to the government and the Ministry of Health and Wellness used them to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, Minister of Health, Kevin Bernard, reiterated that the funds have already been spent and the loan motion was simply to reimburse those monies to the government.
Kevin Bernard, Minister of Health and Wellness: “The leader of government business made his point absolutely clear. Now remember when we were at our peak of COVID , I wasn’t the Minister of Health at the time, of course discussion had to come where we’re going to get some funding to buy vaccines, to get we have to be able to have the resources so from all what I know again these monies were paid by the Government of Belize already you know. We’re just going through the loan motion to get that money reimbursed back to the Government of Belize. So it was a loan preapproved. Belize was given the go ahead to go ahead and utilize your resource and then we’re going to reimburse you through the loan and so that’s what we’re doing. And it’s not about us buying expired vaccines, we have paid for vaccinations Pfizer through the COVAX Facility, some vaccines have been donated to Belize in many occasions too but the government had to find monies at the time to acquire vaccines so we could have gotten many of our people vaccinated. Six hundred and seventy nine persons have died from COVID over the course of two years and so we had to invest, we had to ensure that we put the money where it was important in acquiring vaccination for our people. So there’s no hidden agenda and I listened to the Senate yesterday and in some context some of the opposition members like sought to insinuate what was the procurement process, all of these things were open from the very beginning. We knew that we were getting vaccinations and the campaign that we’re talking about remember now we had COVID enforcement officers, we had vaccination teams set out across the country , a lot of people employed through that program to go out and assist the Ministry of Health in ensuring that we are spreading awareness, we’re getting our people vaccinated, there was mobile vaccination sites set up, we have to pay for those. And that was also part of the funding that was used to cover for those. We’ve just recently just for your information had to release most of those persons because that fund is no longer available. We retained a small portion to continue to assist with the pediatric vaccination campaign and so from the ministry’s resources we are paying out those persons. I think a minimal of about ten per district we have ben able to retain. It was at about thirty and forty in some cases for some districts. So it was costing the ministry some money but that was being used from through the COVID Fund that was approved long ago.”