In the context of addressing plans for improved infrastructure, the Prime Minister mentioned the Petro-Caribe initiative in which Belize saves millions in interest from concessionary loans by Venezuela which can only be used for capital projects. Some have called for the money to be used for other purposes and the Prime Minister maintained that’s not how it’s done.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow
“This Petro-Caribe fund is under the agreement of Belize and Venezuela only available for use in capital projects. I tried to say it in the National Assembly in the context of the ask on the part of the teachers and public officers for salary increases that we cannot use Petro-Caribe monies to fund/recurrent expenditures to fund salary increases. Conceptually, you don’t use borrowed money; this is borrowed money to pay salary, but in addition to that conceptual constraint, contractually or in consequence of the international agreement, that is not on; (We would be in breach of the terms and conditions if we attempted to do that)”.
Likewise, the Prime Minister addressed on assumptions or fears that the Venezuelan benefits may dry up soon.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow: “The concern that some people have that Petro-Caribe will come to an end, we have no indication of that. While the Venezuelans looking at the program a sort of informal classification of countries, puts Belize right in the top tear in the terms of the lending country’s satisfaction with the way Petro-Caribe funds are being administered. So, we are not going to derail a program that represents a sort of gift that keeps on giving when it is maintained in place and is going to continue to be maintained in place, not forever, but for the indefinite future to some extent in consequence of the excellent stewardship of those funds by this administration”.