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- OFID concludes mission to Belize and signs US$40m transport loan
OFID concludes mission to Belize and signs US$40m transport loan
Vienna, Austria, May 2, 2018.The Director-General of OFID – the OPEC Fund for International Development – Suleiman J Al-Herbish has concluded a high-level mission to Belize. Among the highlights of the mission was the signing of a US$40 million loan agreement in support of an important road rehabilitation project in the Central American country. Al-Herbish signed the agreement with Belizean Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dean O Barrow.
At the signing ceremony, Al-Herbish spoke of the longstanding partnership between OFID and Belize, which began three decades ago with a loan to rehabilitate the Belize International Airport. Subsequent public sector commitments total over US$131 million, explained Al-Herbish, of which nearly two-thirds had been directed toward enhancing the country’s transport sector. The present loan agreement underlined OFID’s support of the government’s development priorities and Al-Herbish assured Prime Minister Barrow that the institution would maintain its well-established cooperation.
Prime Minister Barrow expressed his appreciation for OFID’s longstanding support since 1988 and said the current project – an all-weather road to Caracol in the Cayo District of Belize, an area heavily reliant on agriculture and tourism – would be a “monumental achievement” and a “leap forward” in terms of its positive impact on the country’s tourism and agriculture sectors.
The newly-signed loan will co-finance, along with the government, the upgrading of a 42.5km stretch of the Caracol Road. The improved road will help ease travel constraints and boost income-generation, helping to reduce poverty for around 30,000 people and bringing indirect benefits to some 50,000 people.
OFID’s delegation also attended the inauguration ceremony of the Port Loyola Organization for Women (PLOW) Centre, a beneficiary of the Southside Poverty Alleviation project in Belize City. OFID, along with the government of Belize, is co-financing all three phases of the project. PLOW is one of the organizations implementing the social, educational and training component of the Southside Poverty Alleviation project, which aims to improve the infrastructure, health, education and social welfare needs in impoverished areas in Belize City.
PLOW director Lauren Burgess-Eagan said that the new center, thanks to support from OFID and the government of Belize, would enable women “to work; to pay their bills; to feed their children; to send them to school. OFID has given us this building, which is a dream for all of us.”
Furthermore, the OFID delegation visited the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, guided by Belize First Lady Kim Barrow. Al-Herbish also visited the Inspiration Center, an initiative of the First Lady that provides health care and assistance to disabled children in Belize City.
The Prime Minister hosted a dinner in honor of Al-Herbish at the Museum of Belize. The event was attended by government officials and a delegation from the Kuwait Fund. At the dinner, the Prime Minister again expressed gratitude for OFID’s support on behalf of his government and the people of Belize. Al-Herbish thanked the Prime Minister for the hospitality and reiterated OFID’s willingness to continue providing support to his country. He said this gathering had given OFID the opportunity to express its commitment to the Belizean people.