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The Government of Belize to Receive Funding from the World Bank to Aid the Energy Resilience and Climate Adaptation Project

Belmopan. July 12th, 2016. The Government of Belize under the leadership of Minister of State in the Ministry of the Public Service, Energy and Public Utilities Hon. Frank Mena and CEO in the Ministry Dr. Peter Allen; along with the Energy Director Mr. Ambrose Tillett, completed negotiation with the World Bank which agreed to provide funding for the Energy Resilience and Climate Adaptation Project (ERCAP).

An integral component of Belize’s national development agenda is to develop strong sustainable energy policies and programmes that underpin the national economy. It is for this reason that since its formation in 2012, the Energy Unit of the Ministry of Public Service, Energy and Public Utilities has been working towards integrating energy in national development planning and decision making to catalyze sustainable development in Belize.

This sustainable energy roadmap has five (5) pillars:
(i) Energy Efficiency – mainstreaming rational energy to end-use
(ii) Renewable Energy – diversifying electricity and heat
(iii) Clean Production – industrialization of the agro forestry cluster
(iv) Governance – strengthening national capacity for sustainable energy
(v) Infrastructure & Access – building resiliency and achieving universal access to modern energy carriers.

In 2014, the World Bank and the officials from the Ministry of Energy initiated discussions on a programme of support for the purpose of making the energy systems in Belize more resilient and adoptive to climate change. In order to implement the project the Government of Belize has been collaborating with the Belize Electricity Limited and the National Meteorological Service in the planning and preparation of the ERCAP.

All eyes are on Belize as the leading country in building Energy Resilience for Climate Adaptation in Central America and the Caribbean.


Village Council Elections 2016 are now in the History books. After six weeks of elections which began on June 5 ending on July 10, there were elections in all 190 villages in Belize for a total of 1,330 seats (190 Chairpersons and 1,140 Members). Of the 190 Chairperson positions, the United Democratic Party recorded 114 (60%) victories while 63 (33.15%) and 13 (6.84%) went to the opposition People’s United Party and Independent candidates, respectively. Of the 1,140 Member seated , the United Democratic Party captured 689 (60.43%) of the seats with the remaining 390 (34.21%) and 61 (5.35%) going to the opposition People’s United Party and Independent candidates respectively. Of the total 1,330 seats up for election the results are: UDP: 803 (60.37%) PUP: 453 (34.06%) Independent: 74 (5.56%)

Prime Minister Barrow Announces General Election Date

September 28, 2015

My Fellow Belizeans,

When you turned to the United Democratic Party and gave us your confidence in 2008, it was for us to fix all that had gone so horribly wrong in the decade of misrule since 1998.

Our country was burdened by the super bond; strait-jacketed by fiscal austerity; unable to operate a bankrupt DFC and a near insolvent social security; suffering from surging levels of poverty and neglect; and shunned by international concessionary lenders disgusted with the last Administration’s thievery of public monies. The UDP’s overwhelming priority was thus to replenish the state’s coffers; restore local and international confidence; rescue citizens desperately in need of relief; and bring back integrity to the Office of the Prime Minister whose outgoing PUP occupant had, in 2005, been presented with a certificate of corruption by Union and Civil Society leaders.

And so for almost 8 years now, my team and I have striven to clean up the mess we inherited, while simultaneously transforming the lives of the Belizean people.

And our record on this 28th day of September 2015 is such that even our fiercest critics must concede the tremendous advances we have recorded: the super bond was restructured, saving the country $500m; public finances are robust; reserves are at historic highs; public officers are better paid than ever; the BOOST and Food Pantry programs are renowned poverty-fighting models for this entire region; tuition and scholarship grants have expanded educational opportunities for thousands of families; the economy has added more than 4500 jobs each year since 2007; the DFC is strong again; social security is safe and looking to increase benefits; and the new NBB has delivered thousands of small and midsize loans to the poor and the middle class.

Besides all this, investments in healthcare, education and citizen security have reversed the PUP decline, and affordable development financing is once again flowing freely from Belize’s IFI sponsors.

Most dramatically, of course, hundreds of millions in low cost Petrocaribe funds are being invested in national infrastructure and community development. And this has resulted in an unprecedented proliferation of new highways, bridges, roads, streets, drains and sporting facilities in our cities, towns and villages.

In recent weeks, in what can be viewed as the latest chapter in national resurgence, we have settled claims for both the BEL and BTL acquisitions. These vital public utilities are now and forever more part of the national patrimony, and benefits redound to Belizeans by way of the lowest light and telecom rates ever.

Having secured this period of restoration, I believe the time has come to ask you for a fresh mandate. The clean-up having been completed, the UDP must focus now exclusively on the positive, on forwarding opportunity and change. A New Belize must burst forth, where progress, prosperity and stability can reign untrammeled.

This New Belize is to be one where learning and job opportunities vitalize the abundant skills of our young people; where families feel safe in their neighborhoods and homes; where rural dwellers have ready access to classrooms, clinics and industry; where our entrepreneurs and employers pay fewer, fairer taxes and where the innovations of governance serve all our citizens and the national interest.

To forge ahead, to strike out in different directions, to fertilize this new bloom of change and advance and inclusion, we must re-inscribe our compact with the people. Accordingly, I have today advised the Governor General to dissolve the National Assembly and to fix Wednesday November 4, 2015 as the date for the next general elections, with Friday October 16 being Nomination Day.

The Team of 31 candidates that our Party will submit to you is, in my view, the best ever. Conscious of the necessity and demand for clean, competent and compassionate leadership, I am especially proud that the democratic process in our Party has yielded such a superb roster of aspirants. I am therefore certain that a re-elected UDP would deliver transformative results, including the defeat of the remaining pockets of public and private sector corruption.

You the citizen, the voter, hold the most important power in our democracy, and exercise supreme authority and judgment at election time. Because we know that your decision will be based on the record and character of those seeking your support, we in the UDP are confident of the victory. But ultimately it is a matter for you. My Party and I therefore pledge both our commitment to a peaceful election, and our absolute respect for whatever outcome you determine.

The best is yet to come, and may God bless Belize.

Thank you.

Your Excellency, the Governor-General, Sir Colville Young, and Lady Young

Hon Roosevelt Skerrit, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica and our Independence Day Guest of Honour

My Lord Chief Justice, Kenneth Benjamin, and other Justices of the Supreme Court

Hon Leader of the Opposition, Francis Fonseca, and Mrs Fonseca

Hon Ministers of Government and Members of the National Assembly

Your Worship the Mayor of Belmopan, Mr Simeon Lopez, and Mrs Lopez

My Lords the Bishops of the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches of Belize

Superintendent of the Methodist Belize/Honduras District

President of the Evangelical Association of Churches

Other members of the Clergy

Excellencies of the Diplomatic Corps

Members of the Consular Corps

Special Guests, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, Fellow Belizeans

Independence, which this year we celebrate under the theme “Belize in you, Belize in me -Land of the free”, is the cardinal fact of a nation’s existence. It is political and geopolitical. It is cultural and ethnic and spiritual and material. It is the very fount of a country’s being, the source of things practical and philosophical, of things quotidian and things transformational. In reflecting on our Independence, then, we must of course be preoccupied with the here and now, with our current well being and state of affairs. But we must also be forward looking, concerned with the future, with where we want to go and how we get there.

Independence Day speeches, in that sort of a matrix, always constitute something of a dilemma: how to paint a broad but balanced canvas; how to combine an impasto approach with delicate, detailed brush strokes; how to align the national picture without over-emphasizing certain aspects to the neglect of others.

This year there is such an overflow of good things that I serve immediate notice: it will be hard to employ restraint in talking about all that is positive on this thirty second anniversary of the birth of modern Belize.

Let me begin with the economy.

Here the headline news is that unemployment is down. While GDP growth, no doubt in view of the incredibly high bar set in 2012, is flat year over year for the first half of 2013, the jobless figure fell from 14% to 12%.

The drags on growth between January and June, came as a result of a sharper than expected deceleration in oil extraction, lower citrus production, and a decline in energy generation. With respect to petroleum exploration, though, it is worth mentioning that a second well dug in Hillbank by Maranco, just like the first, showed the presence of oil in relative abundance. The difficulty is to viably bring the oil to the surface in circumstances where the rock formation, in terms of permeability, is challenging. But the experts feel it can be done, so there is still optimism that the find will prove commercial. And with respect to electricity generation the rains have come right on schedule in the second half of the year. Thus the dam catchment areas are now full, and there is no longer any hydro power constraint.

So even in these two areas the prospects going forward through December are encouraging. But let me tell you why there is so much more to justify every confidence that there will be dramatic second half growth, and that it will surpass the 2% that the National Budget forecasts. In a word, it is infrastructure.

Now the role of infrastructure in increasing output, productivity and growth, has long since been recognized. As well, it creates jobs and improves the quality of life. It has therefore always been a critical investment area for Government. But as a driver of economic development it has now become the principal implement in this Administration’s toolbox. One reason is that unprecedented spending on infrastructure has now been made possible by Government’s restart of the PetroCaribe arrangement. Under this we are able to secure plentiful, long term, 1% financing from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, long may she live. Accordingly, the infrastructure splurge that will lift the economy and give it wings in this second half of the year, has already begun.

Thus, work started two weeks ago on the Lake Independence Boulevard connecting the George Price Highway on the Southside of Belize City with Chetumal Street on the Northside. This will open up the area where both the CDB-funded sporting and community development facility, and the new National and International Bus Terminal, will be built. Government will at the same time construct the new bridge over the Belize River, and the total cost of this signature project will be in the region of 25 million dollars.

The dismantling of the old Civic Center has also commenced, in preparation for the building of the new multi purpose complex on the same site. The cost is expected to be 30 million dollars for a state-of-the-art structure, and this money will be provided solely by the Government of Belize. Mexico, which had originally committed to assisting us with the project, will instead now look at funding an Olympic size swimming pool and a volleyball facility at the Marion Jones Stadium.

The new Civic Center construction will be handled by the Belize Infrastructure Limited, the special purpose vehicle chartered and owned by Government but with seats on the Board given to the NTUCB and the BCCI. BIL will also oversee the spending of another 40 million dollars on community development and sporting facilities, one in each District Town countrywide. In this regard the PetroCaribe funds will be supplemented by GOB’s Treasury Notes domestic borrowing, as we seek to take advantage of excess liquidity and historically low interest rates. The first of the Municipal projects will be in San Ignacio/Santa Elena, to be followed by Benque Viejo Del Carmen. And depending on whether BIL can handle it, we would like to do two or three of the District Towns simultaneously. In other words, if BIL has the capacity, GOB has the money.

Infrastructure is, of course, not just physical but social and financial as well. In that last context, PetroCaribe funds also provided the capital for the launch of the National Bank of Belize. The Bank is off to a fast start. And while initially it is concentrating on home construction loans, it is worth reminding that we intend to move as quickly as possible, and perhaps as early as the end of the first quarter of next year, to becoming a full-service, deposit-taking institution. This is part of Government’s overall resolve to push access to affordable credit for individuals and businesses as a key way of stimulating even more growth and productivity. There is a central role in all this for the DFC as well. The DFC was, of course, revived by this Government against all odds and after last rites had been administered by, among others, the IFIs. It is, thus, another success story of renewal and reform to which this Administration can point. It has regained operational profitability while directing the bulk of its lending-83%-to the productive sector. Now, guaranteed by Government, it will expand its portfolio by 80 million dollars over the next few years.

Perhaps, then, this is the time to announce what I hope will be an annual feature: an Independence Day gift. As part of its debt relief to Belizeans, Government is arranging to forgive some 6.22 million dollars worth of DFC loans. These are principally mortgage loans, but also include some in the education and productive sectors. For the most part, the loans have already been foreclosed on by the DFC and the borrowers’ collateral seized. But the sale of the collateral was not sufficient to liquidate the debt, and the borrowers were still on the hook for the balance. Government will now step in so that the 361 persons that qualify under the program will no longer be hounded by lawyers and bill collectors for the remainder of what they owe.

But back to physical infrastructure. With the mix of Treasury notes and PetroCaribe funds, a new headquarters will be built for the National Bank in the area opened up by the Lake Independence Boulevard; another new bridge will link the mile eight surrounds of suburban Belize City to Lords Bank behind Gentrac, close to the International airport; and starting around the middle of next year central Government will be pumping money into District Towns for work on streets and drains so that the Belize City miracle of Mayor Darrell Bradley might to some extent be replicated across the nation.

Truly then, My Fellow Belizeans, as we start this thirty third year of our Independence our material prospects are exciting to behold. We are embarked on nothing less than the creation of a post-Independence golden age. And we will not stop until we reach a point where people will in years to come be able to look back on this time and say, with the Poet, “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive”. And so it is also that Foreign Direct Investment continues to pour into our country.

ASR is expanding the capacity of the BSI mill to grind 10 thousand tons of cane per day as early as the next crop year, which starts in two months. Farmers are busy planting additional acreage to take advantage of this historic increase, and these are indeed times of plenty and prosperity for the North.

Meanwhile the new GreenTropics sugar mill is beginning to be assembled, and Brazilians want to do ethanol at Libertad. Generally, agriculture is making a Great Leap Forward. Four thousand additional acres of rice are being planted for export by the Mennonites in the area behind Roaring Creek; we are sending corn to Mexico as well as Guatemala and Jamaica; and the second cattle sweep is being completed, which will allow us to sell livestock anywhere in the world.

Tourism is growing at 8% over last year, which itself grew 10% over the year before; and the 100 million dollar NCL investment presages more good things to come. There are, of course, the naysayers that propound far and wide the notion that cruise tourism is a deterrent to overnight tourism.

But as though especially to confound them, a sales agreement has now been signed for the purchase of Caye Chapel by the same investor that sold Harvest Caye to NCL. And he is partnering with the Six Senses Group to build the first internationally branded Belizean five star resort on Caye Chapel, and so provide further impetus to the already robust stay-over sector.

My Fellow Belizeans, distinguished guests: Independence, the fundament of our existence as a sovereign Central American and Caribbean state, is distinctly about the kind of economic progress I have just rehearsed. But it is, as I said at the start, about so much more. It is, for example, about security and territorial integrity. And in the context certainly of citizen security, the news on this 21st September is also good. Thus I am happy to report that as of this writing murders countrywide stood at 74 for the period January to September 2013. This is 29 less than the 103 for the first nine months of last year, and in fact the lowest it has been in five years for the January to September period. Even more encouraging, the Belize City gang-related murders have dropped still more dramatically. Through September 19th, 2013, gangland-driven murders are down by 34% as compared to last year: that is, from 41 to 27. I hope I don’t speak too soon when I say that it appears that finally the long nightfall is lifting, the Stygian darkness is ending.

For this no doubt the Security Forces are to be commended. They are better equipped and better resourced by Government, and they have done a splendid job. But it is also a certainty that the strides we are making in job creation have played a major part. It is in that context that the welcome decline in the unemployment rate must be placed.

On the question of territorial integrity we are very much determined to contain, and even reverse, the illegal incursions into the Chiquibul Forest, its National Park, and other areas. These depredations have laid waste far too much of our biosphere, and cannot be allowed to continue. Thus Government is to start immediate construction of three new border monitoring outposts. The locations are to be identified by the BDF in consultation with Friends of Conservation and Development, and the latter will assist as well with implementation. Enough cannot be said in praise of FCD. Their awareness-raising as well as operational efforts, have been phenomenal; and are capped now by their international partnership with the Guatemalan NGO Associacion Balam, and the FAO. This international agreement is designed at getting some prevention and preservation action from the Guatemalan side of the border, which of course is the origin of the problem.

Part of the plan on our side is to grow the BDF as much as possible. And so intake numbers will be increased to at least 80 persons with the next recruiting tranche; and this step-up will continue with every new complement in order to improve overall BDF troop strength by at least one quarter over the next few years.

Ladies and Gentlemen, My Fellow Belizeans:

Above all else or, better put, including all else, Independence is about patriotism. So no Independence Day speech can be complete without a reflection on patriotism. And on this score I believe we are also in good shape. Indeed, in ways both ordinary and extraordinary, Belizean patriotism is always on show. And there are times when there is a great onrush, a great outpouring of that patriotism. One such was our Gold Cup football appearance. Belizeans went wild over the Jaguars; and the platitude that it doesn’t matter whether you win or lose, took on a whole new meaning. It was, without a doubt, our Invictus moment.

Belizean patriotism has, of course, always been bound up with Belizean diversity. When we speak of unity in diversity we speak of the oneness, the solidarity, the surpassing fellow feeling that love of this country has produced among disparate ethnicities, disparate social groups.

Recently, however, a most unsettling phenomenon has arisen. A version of the culture wars has come to our country and it is souring the harmony and disrupting the rhythm of Belizean life. The golden knot that ties us all together, is in danger of coming loose. Now I do not wish to give offence to anyone on Independence Day. So what I say next is spoken not in anger or even in sorrow, but merely by way of exhortation. The diversity that we have hymned for so long must not now prove to be an empty trope, so much PR fluff. It must pass this latest test. In particular, we cannot afford for Government and the Churches to be at odds. The filigreed chain that links the two is a proud part of the national ornamentation, and it cannot be allowed to break. Government will therefore fully respect the right of the churches to propagate their understanding of the morality, or immorality, of homosexuality. But what Government cannot do is to shirk its duty to ensure that all citizens, without exception, enjoy the full protection of the law.

After all, the Belize Constitution that affirms the supremacy of God also affirms fundamental rights and the dignity of the individual human being.

That same Constitution further declares that all persons are equal before the law and entitled to non discrimination; to freedom from interference with their privacy; and to freedom from unlawful attacks on their honour and reputation.

There is, I submit, no logical inconsistency between these different tenets of our Constitution. And Government, the Churches and the Belizean polity must find a way to uphold all the principles of our foundation document.

Ladies and Gentlemen, My Fellow Belizeans: in closing I wish to salute our two National Heroes, George Price and Philip Goldson. As we engage in national debate and disagreement, let us recall that these two were lifelong political opponents. They walked different roads in their search to redeem our country’s destiny. Yet, in the end both are recognized as patriots of Independent Belize the likes of which we shall never see again.

As we honour them, I announce that Government, on Tuesday of this week, completed the purchase and transfer of the house here in Belmopan last occupied by Philip Stanley Wilberforce Goldson before his death. We will now turn it into a memorial to his life and legacy, putting NICH in charge of that project. Government has also, at a cost of some one hundred and fifty thousand dollars, commenced the paving of the road leading to the George Price Center, and will install proper drainage so as to ensure longevity of the new asphalt surface.

Let, therefore, the life and legacy of both Philip Goldson and Father of the Nation George Price be what we most remember on this and every Independence Day. Let the example of these two titans be what always animates our continuing dedication of this rich, glorious and blessed land to that Almighty God who has given it to us for our everlasting heritage.

As could have been expected, the United Democratic Party held and extremely successful National Party Convention on Sunday February 17th at the Andres Campos Civic Center in Corozal Town. Some 8 thousands party supporters gathered as the party’s national convention delegates, 567 of them came together to make important decisions for the forward movement of the UDP.

During the convention, what took center stage was the election of officers which included that of the 1st Deputy Party Leader, Party  Chairman, and Deputy Party Chairman. At the end of the voting the Deputy Party Leader’s position was taken by Hon. Gaspar Vega  who received 311 votes while Hon. Patrick Faber received 233. Taking the Chairman’s position was Alberto August who secured 379 votes while Roosevelt Blades got 183 votes.  Holding the position of Deputy Party Chairman is now Fern Gutierrez who received 378 votes while Roger Espejo who also contested the position received 180 votes.  If the votes do not add up to 567 votes its because there was one delegate who did not vote while the others represent spoilt ballots.

For those who speculated that the convention would have created a rift in the party, it was quite the contrary as immediately after the votes were counted and the winners decided, Hon. Vega and Hon. Faber congratulated each other inside the counting room with a hearty embrace. The feeling continued as they made their way out of the counting room and Hon. Patrick Faber embraced and raised the hand of Hon. Gaspar Vega to acknowledge his victory.  Then it was on to the stage where the theme of unity resounded with Hon. Faber endorsing the party’s leadership and pledging his unwavering support for the United Democratic Party.

Echoing the sentiment of unity was the Deputy Party Leader who explained to the gathering that the convention proved that the party was indeed a democratic one and one which would be able to move on after the votes were counted.

For his part, the Party Leader, Hon. Dean Barrow explained that while Hon. Faber was not successful, he has a position in the leadership of the party waiting for him. Another major announcement which  he heralded was that he would be leading the United Democratic Party to a third general election and based on the party’s accomplishments thus far almost guaranteed a victory when that time comes around. He went on to highlight those accomplishments to thunderous applauses from those gathered.

Maranco Energy Belize Limited, on March 30, 2013, discovered an encouraging oil show at the South Canal Bank #1 exploration well in their concession area in the Orange Walk District.

Further and necessary testing is ongoing to determine the commercial potential of the oil show. The Geology and Petroleum Department personnel are on site and are closely monitoring the situation.

The Ministry of Energy, Science & Technology and Public Utilities will provide a public update within a fortnight or as soon as new and additional information is forthcoming.

Minister of National Security, Hon. John Saldivar this afternoon handed over keys for two new vehicles to Commissioner of Police, David Henderson at the Police Headquarters in Belmopan City. The two new vehicles, an Isuzu D-Max Pickup Truck and a Mahindra Truck, were purchased by the Government of Belize and are being assigned to the Belmopan Formation. In handing over the vehicles, Hon. Saldivar said he is pleased to be able to meet the growing demand for Police mobility in the rapidly expanding Capital City and surrounding areas. He said it is in line with the policy of his Ministry and the Government to adequately equip the Police Department as it intensifies its fight against crime nationwide. Also present for the handover this afternoon was Officer Commanding the Belmopan Formation, Superintendent Alvan Gentle. Hon. Saldivar, who is Area Representative for the Belmopan Constituency, also announced this afternoon that plans are in the making for the construction of a new Police Station for the City of Belmopan to be located in the North Ring-Road area. At a cost of around BZ $400,000, the project will be funded jointly by the Governments of Taiwan and Belize. To view more photos: Minister of National Security, Hon. John Saldivar this afternoon handed over keys for two new vehicles to Commissioner of Police, David Henderson at the Police Headquarters in Belmopan City.

The Government of Belize signed a loan agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) on November 16, 2009, in the amount of US$2,500,000 to finance the execution of the Land Management Program Phase III (LMP III). The Project is for a period of three (3) years and is in its final stage of development.

The objective of this Program is to consolidate and expand land management services country-wide, to improve quality, efficiency and access to all Belizeans.

The LMP III consists of three components: (1) Expansion of the Parcel-Based Land Information System; (2) Improvement of Urban Land Information; and (3) Support for the Provision of Modern Land Management Services. The LMP III Program is being executed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture (MNRA) through the Department of Lands and Surveys (DLS).

In November 2012, the Program began execution of Component 1. As a result, the general public is hereby advised that the Lands & Surveys Department is currently migrating into this upgraded Land Management System.

Due to this migration, services at the National Estate Section and all District Lands Offices are limited but will become fully operational over the next fifteen (15) business days.

During this period, the Ministry asks for your patience as we continue our efforts to better serve the Belizean people.

Hon. Diane Ablonczy, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs Canada; Mr. Hugues Rousseau, Canadian High Commissioner and other members of the Canadian Delegation; Carlos Perodomo, Cabinet Secretary; Colonel George Lovell, CEO Ministry of National Security and other members of the Ministry of National Security, Alexis Rosado, CEO in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other members of Foreign Affairs; Mr. Patrick Andrews, Honorary Canadian Consul; We are also blessed with the presence of Mr. Douglas Singh, previous Minister with the responsibility for the Ministry of Police and Public Safety; Mrs. Cheryl– Lynn Vidal, Director of Public Prosecution; Ms. Ann – Marie Smith, Chief Magistrate; Mr. David Henderson, Commissioner of Police and other members of the Police Department; Brigadier General Dario Tapia, Commander BDF and other members of the BDF; Captain John Borland, Commandant Belize Coast Guard; Ms. Genoveva Marin and members of the National Forensic Science Service; Members of the Various media houses represented here today; other distinguished guests; Ladies and Gentlemen; a pleasant good morning to one and all.

I feel extremely privileged to have been afforded this opportunity of addressing this most captive audience – and one capable of influencing positive change in our fight against crime and violence here in Belize; I am encouraged by your presence here this morning; this certainly gives me the assurance that as stakeholders we are all committed to create a safe and secure environment where our citizens and visitors can live in peace with itself.

I wish to welcome the Hon. Minister and her team to Belize. My understanding is that the programme of events included a fly over in a helicopter along the Belize/Guatemala border accompanied by the Vice Minister of Guatemala and CEO in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. An official visit to the border (adjacency zone) is also scheduled in the programme of events. I also note that Minister Ablonczy is the head of the Consular programme for the Canadian Government and as such she will be visiting the Mennonite Community in Spanish Lookout. I am hopeful that your stay in Belize will help to further the excellent bilateral relation that both our Governments’ shared since the establishment of diplomatic relations in November, 1981.

It is pleasing to note that the foundation is well on its way to be set for integrated planning in citizen security issues. Following the Donor Coordination Group meeting on Citizen Security with key CEO of the Government, on the 23 rd August, 2012; where Belize’s National Strategic Plans were discussed, a commitment was made for the development of a road map which will chart the path for a more synchronized approach to the wider donor contribution effort. We have also been actively engaging our friendly Governments; dialogue with the British, Canadians, Mexicans and the US Governments and others continue to result in major capacity building efforts.

In April 2012, through the Anti- Crime Capacity Building Programme, Canada donated this Integrated Ballistic Identification System, TRAX – 3D, which is valued over $2 million; which is said to be the most advanced ballistic imaging solution in the world today.

This will now significantly increase the ability of our law enforcement agencies to make ballistic matches across crime scenes and jurisdictions. We are hoping that in a very short time this  equipment will assist in our investigating effort of the numerous crimes involving guns and the arrest of gun crime offenders.

Hon. Minister of State, distinguished guest, It is important to underscore the fact that this IBIS system was delivered to us in less than six months from the time a commitment was made by the Canadian Government. Those of us who know how difficult it is to navigate through the red tape and bureaucracy for donor countries to provide this type of assistance, in such a short time frame, will understand how unprecedented this is. The Government of Belize and in particular the Ministry of National Security is extremely thankful to the Government of Canada for this most needed and expeditious contribution. You demonstrated that not only you are a true partner in the fight against National and transnational crime but you are serious about playing your part.

Belize is partnering with a similar project being executed in Barbados. Barbados has agreed to share a server with Belize and Belize has agreed to meet the cost of maintenance of the server jointly with Barbados. Canada has also agreed to sponsor training for one individual at the Forensic lab in the area of Serology, which is the scientific study of blood serum and other body fluids. The training will be conducted in Canada for three months at a cost $18,000 Canadian Dollars.

Moving forward, a recruit squad for the Police Department and one for the BDF will be added to their strength. The BDF and the BNCG will be strengthened to provide better security coverage along our borders and at sea. The K9 Unit is being fully utilized to support the crime fighting effort. The CIMS will be rolled out countrywide. Resource packages, similar to those given to Eastern Division will be extended to the Districts, especially Cayo and Stann Creek, in a proportionate manner. Mobile interdiction teams will be stood up. Legislation to limit the bail of repeat offenders and implement a sex offenders’ registry and monitoring system along with efforts to increase the rate of convictions of criminals will be pursued. Efforts will be made to strengthen the Police Prosecution branch and institute greater coordination between the Police and the Office of the Director of the Public Prosecution. We will ensure more effectiveness in the investigation and preparation of cases for prosecution and ensure, together with the Magistracy and Judiciary, the proper enforcement of the laws governing denial of bail in cases of sexual and other serious offences; also Procedure to deal disciplinary with corrupt officers in an expeditious manner will be pursued.

Our Intelligence Architecture will be revamped into a Fusion Center that will host a new Counter Intelligence Unit, and the proposed National Crime and Violence Trends Observatory (which would endeavor to conduct more in-depth analysis and primary research projects on crime and violence trends across the country). The Fusion Center would also serve as the Government of Belize’s International Liaison with international and regional partners such as INTERPOL, the Regional Intelligence Fusion Centre (RIFC) in Trinidad & Tobago, Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras. Finally, the Fusion Center will facilitate the I-Trace software and conduct tracing services for all weapons and ammunition recovered by any and all national security agencies.

There is a whole lot we have planned on doing, but, In times of shrinking economies and limited resources it is a challenge for our Government to provide needed resources in the quantity and in all the areas we would like to. Therefore we must be strategic and real in our approach in addressing our many issues. We ask for patience as we seek to achieve these planned objects.

We now have the most advance ballistic imaging solution added to our inventory; I want to ask the staff of the Forensic Service to please look after it well so that it will service us for a long time to come. We are depending on you to do so.

In ending, I wish to thank the Government of Canada for their kind contribution.

Also I wish to take this opportunity to join the Prime Minister of Belize, the Hon. Dean Barrow, in offering my congratulations and thanks to the thousands of Belizeans from the Cayo District and across the country who participated in the San Ignacio/Santa Elena peaceful protest against crime on Thursday. Please be assured that the war on crime will not slacken but be heightened by increased human and material resource allocation.

I thank you for the role you have played in this effort and for your attention.