PUP says Coastal Highway issue it raised when in opposition is a thing of the past
Did the Briceno Administration have a change of heart surrounding the concerns it raised regarding funding for the Coastal Plain Highway? The question was posed to Minister Eamon Courtenay, on the backdrop that when the current administration was in opposition, they had made remarks against the project. Back in 2020, the then Leader of the Opposition, John Briceno, wrote to the British High Commissioner in Belize stating that the proper procedures were not followed regarding the issuing of the road contract for the Coastal Road. In that letter, Briceno stated that the then government did not follow the process, and that the matter was not tabled in the National Assembly after it was signed in December 2019. As irony would have it, the Briceno administration took British Minister, MP David Rutley to the Coastal Road as part of his visit. In response to the question, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Eamon Courtenay, says the issue is a thing of the past.
Eamon Courtenay, Senator for Government Business: “If you recall, we made a complaint at the time, not only to the UK government but also to the Caribbean Development Bank. In their own wisdom, neither of them responded to us. When we were, well, when the government was elected the project was well underway and therefore the issues that we wanted to raise had been overtaken by events. I did not raise that issue with Minister Rutley because the facts are where they are today. What we did discuss is the success of the road project in terms of building resilience in providing Belizeans with a more efficient way of going south and of opening up that area. The issue we were raising in opposition was a question of transparency. That was the issue.”
Minister for the Americas and the Caribbean MP David Rutley did weigh in on the concerns that were raised by the then opposition as he commented on the importance of the highway.
David Rutley, UK Minister – Americas and the Caribbean: “All I can say is having been to the road now, it’s an amazing piece of engineering. It’s making a huge difference to the communities involved. I have got a business background but I know that the most important measure on infrastructure is people’s smiling faces. If people are smiling it’s making a difference and local communities are really welcoming of the way that it’s been constructed. It’s built to last, it’s built to be resilient, it’s a huge improvement and I think it’s real credit to the government in the way that it’s been implemented on time, ahead of budget and that some of those savings have been then used to help the local communities. I think it sets an incredibly high benchmark for other countries to look at to figure out how we can land these projects which are quite complicated sometimes to deliver in that way. And you know I’ve been really impressed so I think some good joint working but the delivery credit to the government and the project management team for delivering it in such a positive way with really good feedback from the local communities involved.”