On Tuesday, the Ambassador of Japan to Belize, His Excellency Yasuo Takase, signed off on a hundred million Japanese yen worth of assistance to the Government of Belize, as part of the Non-Project Grant Assistance for Industrial Products program, intended to assist with Belize’s economic and social development.
That is approximately BZ$1.65 million, and while it may not seem much, Prime Minister Dean Barrow and Minister of Foreign Affairs Wilfred Elrington, the latter of whom negotiated the deal while visiting Japan earlier this year for a summit, are nonetheless grateful.
Ambassador Takase spoke to us about how the project will work.
“It’s very technical. Generally speaking, it’s up to you, up to the Belizean government or the Belizean people, which equipment you will request.
Very important equipment is coming to Belize in due course.”
For Belize, said the Prime Minister, this would mean readying for an expert to come in and dialogue with our local officials about what would best work, and then buying the products from Japan with the grant money.
“It’s supposed to be worked out jointly between us and their commission, which will be set up, which would handle the logistics, both in terms of the identification and selection of the praticular items, and them the process of paying for those items, and getting them shipped to Belize. An agent has to be appointed.
There are some of the items that might have to be looked at in a particularly careful manner, because of the question of servicing. So all that sort of thing will be inputted, and then at the end of that process the particular list would have been made.”
According to the Prime Minister, Belize gets the satisfaction of helping an important region of Japan recover from disaster.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow
“This involves a grant of one hundred million Yen from the Japanese Government to Belize, and the money is to be used in a very interesting way. It’s an intriguing model. From what I saw in terms of the briefing note and what the ambassador explained to me, this model will be used for Belize to buy from a range of products, that are in fact manufactured in areas of Japan that suffered from the last natural disaster.
So it’s a way for the Japanese Government to help to stimulate the economy in those areas, help them to get back on the good foot, while at the same time allowing developing countries such as Belize to benefit from the Japanese grant.
There is, as I said, a whole gamut of products. That panoply includes loaders and instruments to measure the weather, and I am sure that you can get a copy of the detailed list of what’s on offer, but clearly this can prove extremely useful to Belize.”
The project gets underway early in 2015, and the grant is to be completely spent by the end of the year.
The Ambassador also took time to thank Belize for recently lifting visa requirements for visitors from Japan, which he predicted would improve tourism figures.
Approximately 40 Japanese live in Belize including volunteers with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).