The engineering body of Belize’s government is found in the local municipalities – that is the city and town councils. Therefore, it is important that these councils be ran with the highest efficiency possible and its revenues managed productively. The Revenue Enhancement Support Program (RESP), part of the Belize Municipal Development Project (BMDP) serves to do just that – strengthen the capacity of the local city and town councils. The RESP was carried out by two financial consultants and today, the final report was presented to an audience of Mayors and Deputy Mayors of all city and town councils, BMDP representatives, SIF representatives and other interested parties. Finance Coordinator in SIF, Nellie Trench, provided a briefing of the consultation process.
Nellie Trench – Finance Coordinator, SIF:
As you know Mr Doughty and Mr Zeniga were the successful consultants, selected to carry out the task of providing technical assistance in revenue enhancement support under the Belize Municipal Development Project, to all local town and city councils. The main objective is to make them more effective in carrying out their responsibilities with a view to attaining financial sustainability through enhanced financial position, by increasing revenue collection and improving efficiency in expenditure. The technical assistance was carried out to achieve the above aim, through the implementation of recommendations of the Municipal Finance and Revenue Enhancement Report and other practical and innovative suggestions for revenue enhancement and finance management. In execution of their duties, both consultants have analyzed a number of issues. These include: the analysis of current status of reporting to the Ministry of Local Government; assisting the current levels of annual financial commitments of the various towns and city councils, for maintenance of municipal infrastructure and other capital assets; revenue generation, including identifying new sources of funding, identification of priorities for improvement of the municipal finance; and develop a work program for implementation, among others.
Financial Advisor in the Ministry of Finance Yvette Alvarez further discussed the objective of the RESP report.
Yvette Alvarez – Financial Advisor in the Ministry of Finance:
The recommendations that Mr Doughty and Mr Zuniga will make will serve as a springboard for continuing work at the town and city councils. These recommendations will bolster ongoing capacity building initiatives that are currently being implemented under the Municipal Development Project. These include: the preparation of Municipal Development Plans [as] planning is very critical to ensure that your financial management is efficient and effective; the development of physical asset inventories and maintenance plans; the training of Traffic Managers, very critical.
The BMDP is a $30.0 million Government of Belize project being financed through the World Bank and implemented by the Social Investment Fund (SIF). The project focuses on three main components -Municipal Infrastructure Investments, Technical Assistance and Capacity Building for Town and City Councils and Central Government and Project Management and Administration.