Headline — 13 March 2015 — by Adele Ramos
House meets Friday

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Mar. 12, 2015–The House of Representatives meets tomorrow, Friday, March 13, 2015, for the presentation of the proposed national budget for 2015-2016, as well as a supplementary appropriation bill for PetroCaribe spending and a series of loan motions totaling roughly US$72 million.

The national budget will be in excess of a billion dollars, and we understand that although Government has not conclusively determined the size of the salary adjustment that will be paid this year to teachers and public officers, there will be a provision included in the budget based on the current forecasts.

Deputy Financial Secretary Marion Palacio explained that the agreement for deciding on the salary adjustment remains the same as last year: half of any increase in recurrent revenue for this year over last year’s actual revenue will be given in salary adjustments to teachers and public officers; however, the fiscal year does not end until March 31, 2015, which means that final figures won’t be immediately available to calculate how much of a salary adjustment should be paid to workers.

In addition to the national budget for the upcoming fiscal year, Parliament will also be presented tomorrow with a money motion for a US$13.5 million loan from the Kuwaiti Fund for Arab Economic Development for the rehabilitation of the Hummingbird Highway from Belmopan to Dangriga. That loan will finance the resurfacing of the entire 55 miles of road, as well as the knockout of 6 single-lane bridges, which will be replaced by double-lane bridges.

A loan motion will also be presented for a US$30 million loan from the Central American Bank for Economic Integration to finance the Belize Integral Security Project, under which funding will be provided to the Police, Coast Guard, Belize Defence Force and the Belize Forensic Service for building infrastructure, as well as acquiring supplies and equipment for specialized technical work and surveillance and monitoring systems.

A third loan motion will cover US$28.8 million which the Government of Belize has borrowed from Venezuela under the PetroCaribe program between September 2014 and February 2015.

That loan motion is to be introduced tomorrow and debated on Thursday, March 26, when the national budget is also scheduled to be debated in Parliament.

A motion to pay $2,352,589 to charities in Belize such as the Girls Guides, Boys Scouts and the Sister Cecilia Home for the Elderly will also be presented. We have been informed by an official source that the allocation for the official charities fund has not increased since 2000.

Additionally, the 2014 report of the Ombudsman is to be tabled tomorrow.

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