A few bills were also discussed in the Senate meeting today. Among them was the bill for Loan Motion from the Government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) for the upgrading of the Corozal-Sarteneja Road, as well as for the constructions of the Pueble Nuevo and Laguna Seca Bridges. The loan would be for US $50,000,000 for a term of 20 years, including a 5 year grace period. While this is good news for the people of Sarteneja, Senator Louis Zabaneh insinuated that the timing of the project is convenient since elections are coming up.
Dr.Louis Zabaneh, Senator: “The people of that part of our country have been waiting for years and years for this road and we are grateful that the road is now going to be put in, but we wonder why it has taken so long to address that matter when in fact we have had other expenditures in infrastructure that have gone before this one. The infamous $180 million to Caracol, the road that is almost now complete from Mile 8 to the International Airport, the $8 million dollars of Fabers Road, why did those have priority over this one? It begs the question why at this moment? People wonder if it’s because we’re coming up close to elections, is that the reason? Why have these people been made to suffer for so long? There are people in other parts of our country, the Coastal Road for the people of the south, years and years have been waiting and you hear it over and over that there will be an investment in the Coastal Road and until recently now we are seeing that there are some things being done and we welcome that but why wait so long when we know there were cost-benefit analyses done I would argue that we would see that there are greater needs in certain areas, prioritization would have been the guide that would have gotten these investments where they would be most needed. We don’t know specifically how much will be spent, we haven’t been provided with that information to say how much will go for each bridge, how much will be left for the road itself so that we can calculate and get an idea of what will be spent on the road itself versus the bridges.”
Senator Michael Peyrefitte fired back at Dr Zabaneh, stating that UDP serves to gain nothing by fixing the Corozal-Sarteneja Road.
Michael Peyrefitte, UDP Senator: “Why it has taken so long for a road to be built in that part of the country? Why Senator Salas you ask people have been promised over and over and over and Senator Zabaneh you brought up political implications as part of the desire of the present government to put a road in that area. Since Independence from 1981 to 1984, from 1989 to 1993 and from 1998 to 2008 that is seventeen years if my math is correct since Independence that that area of this country was represented by one of the most powerful men in the history of this country and in the People’s United Party. So you ask why this government has taken so long to put that road, Senator Zabaneh, you should ask your party, ask the PUP why it took so long for them and why did they not ever, ever build that road for those people in that area who time and time and time again return the area rep and his son and his government to that seat in that area. Now here comes along a UDP government and it has no political implications Senator Zabaneh, none whatsoever. Anybody who knows politics will know, even me who lost two times, know that Corozal southeast is practically one of the safest PUP seats you could find. So what political gain does this government get from putting that road there? What political gain do we get from that? None whatsoever, none other than it’s the right thing to do.”
Senator Peyrefitte continued to attack the PUP by saying their reputation made it difficult to receive loans during their term.
Michael Peyrefitte, UDP Senator: “Borrowing for a nation, especially a young developing nation like Belize is not a bad thing, but let’s not get lost as to how we are borrowing. Look at the previous two loan motions from the IDB, Taiwan is lending us, grace periods. You know what it says for a government who has been in power for eleven years tot be still getting concessionary loans? It’s a signal by the lending agencies that we are not reckless when we borrow money, it’s a signal by the lending agencies that when this government borrows money it puts it to good use and you can see what we borrowed the money for. Towards the end of the People’s United Party government in 2008 the PUP could not float not even one concessionary loan, you had to go and borrow at private interest rates like from the International Bank of Miami and the like because by the time 2008 came around the reputation of the People’s United Party was shot, nobody would lend them any money with any kind of grace period.”
We will have more in today’s Senate meeting in Monday’s newscast.