The Dangriga market was delayed due to alleged corruption at SIF, but all that is behind us now and a new contract was signed with new builders.
However, due to the occurrences with SIF, the Dangriga market remains the only municipality where a Belize Infrastructure Development project is still at phase one and the delays clearly have an effect on the vendors since they are out of their actual location longer than was anticipated, and vendors say they have been losing money.
Mayor of Dangriga, Gilbert Swazo was guest on Rise and Shine today and addressed this issue.
“You may recall that when the project started in May in 2012, we from the council have to have made an arrangement to temporary relocate those vendors and we had then relocated them. As a consequence, the vendors then claimed that where they were and as a result of the termination of the project, that they are losing revenue at a minimum of 25% of the income that they were used to earn in from the market. As a consequence to that, representatives from SIF went to Dangriga with a view to make an assessment. They ascertained through the assessment that they made with the vendors and also looking at those revenues that we normally collect as well and it was in fact ascertained that there was some revenue loss. There is some clause within the agreement (Between Central Government and the World Bank), that there ought to be some income restoration because there is what is called Project Affected People. If there is a social impact that is negatively affecting, it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that there is some restoration to elevate the suffering of those Project Affected People. The project also states then that that would be the direct responsibility of the municipality who is the beneficiary of that project”.
The problem the mayor says he has been having is that SIF wants the town board to pick up the tab, as agreed.
However, even though there was an agreement, town council says they don’t have the money and they want Government to pick up the tab.
Mayor of Dangriga: “From the council’s perspective, w have done everything possible to ensure that we were in compliance with every term of the contract on the agreement that we signed on behalf of the municipality, and it wasn’t as a consequence of that, that the project was terminated in any way or form. So, we don’t believe that that is our responsibility because if the project was perhaps not terminated and if we continued to fulfill our mandate, then, I believe that it is the responsibility, perhaps, of SIF or the Government of Belize. Furthermore, we have also requested financial assistance from the Government. So, if we are to take on that 25%, then where do we get that money from to be able to take care of our recurrent expenditures and to be able to offer better service to the people of Dangriga? That income restoration, while you have offered three options, all those options are indicating that it has to be the invoice verto that will board that cost; that when the transition occurred to the temporary facility, the Dangriga Town Council assumed the responsibility for utilities because remember that it was about twenty people that we had relocated. PArt of what they were recommending was, “let us look at foregoing taxes, that when they return into the new market when it is completed for us to forego up on Trade License or rental, to that effect. So, essentially, continue to losing revenue; we did not agree to that in anyway or form, because essentially, we were not responsible for those delays or for the termination of that project”.
The town councils says they will continue to lobby to raise the funds.
If you wondered where the money came from to complete the market, he says it is from Phase II, so they may be losing some paved streets that they were expected to receive.