A new state of the art laboratory testing facility is to be constructed at the Belize Bureau of Standards (BBS). Ground was broken for the building today which in turn is expected to be completed by early 2016. The building is being constructed under the Belize Rural Development Project which is being funded by the European Union along with counterpart funding from the Government of Belize. The lab will be constructed at a cost of BZ$ 2.3 million and its main use will be Metrology testing, that is, ensuring that products manufactured or produced in Belize meets the international standards of weights and measurements.
The building will host seven (7) laboratory areas, offices, conference/training rooms, bathrooms, utility rooms, storage rooms and external areas. The BRDP support to BBS also includes the supply and training in the use of key metrology equipment including: mass comparators and balances, weights and related mass laboratory equipment, pressure, temperature, dimensional and volume metrology equipment. All of which has already been handed over.
EU Ambassador to Belize, Paola Amadei pointed out that the intervention consists not only of the construction of the building but includes also the purchase of equipment for the BBS. She explained that the services which will be offered to local businesses will guarantee that they are meeting all the standards necessary to compete locally and internationally.
"The Belizean economy is largely agricultural based with products like sugar, bananas, citrus, fisheries, cattle and I could go on,” stated Paola Amadei. “While no one can question the quality of the products which are produced here, buyers local and international alike all want to make sure that they are receiving value for money. The quality of products needs to be equitably tested for products to be fit for trade. Therefore the absence of these basic metrological services puts constraints on how far industries can advance in the global trade."
The Belize Rural Development Project is a broad rural development initiative which started in Feb 2010 for six years. The program offers a broad based rural economic growth aiming at:
1. A more efficient market driven productive and competitive, small, medium and micro-enterprises (SMEs) established for rural groups and communities.
2. Improved access to strategic infrastructure measures to create an enabling environment for rural development and
3. Strengthened policies and institutional environment within which rural enterprises, traders, processors, local organizations and communities operate.
The overall budget for BRDP is 15,900,000 EUR or just over BZ$36.8 million.
EU Ambassador on First Official Visit to Belize for 2015
Head of Delegation for the European Union to Belize, Ambassador Paola Amadei was this week on her first official visit to Belize for 2015. Ambassador Amadei was in the country from the 19th to the 23rd of January and the primary focus of her visit is the inauguration of several projects which have been completed across the country in partnership with the Government. On Monday, January 19, in the North the Ambassador officially inaugurated the market in Benque Viejo del Carmen. The market was opened in December to allow use by vendors who were in need of the facilities. On Tuesday, a similar ceremony was held for the opening of the Belmopan Market. The markets have been constructed under the Belize Rural Development Program (BRDP): providing better outlets for produce will improve conditions and offer new economic opportunities which have the objective of alleviating poverty through strengthening the economic opportunities for local communities.
Other projects inaugurated in Central and South Belize on Thursday and Friday respectively were the opening of three craft markets rehabilitated on the archaeological sites of Nim Li Punit, Labantuun and Blue Creek and the official opening of the San Lazaro to August Pine Ridge road which was rehabilitated under the Accompanying Measures for Sugar.
Ambassador Amadei used the occasion to promote 2015 as the European Year of Development under the slogan "Our World, Our Dignity, Our Future". The year in addition to being a campaign aimed at illustrating to the world how the EU, together with its 28 Member States, makes a crucial contribution to eradicating poverty will also be used to emphasize that the EU is more committed than ever to its support and partnership with countries like Belize.
"The focus on people has been the backbone of EU support since the inception of its cooperation programs and that is what has led to us being the leading donor in development assistance across the world. Our work in 2015 will be reflecting on what has been achieved thus far and what still needs to be done across the world. In addition to educating our own citizens on what we have done, it is also the year when the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) reach their deadline and the world will review the progress of the eight goals which were set in 2000. The EU believes that the international community should agree now on new, universal goals for after 2015."
In 2014, Belize received the largest disbursement in its development cooperation with the EU to date. More than €14.35 million or BZ$36.15 million was handed over to support programs in agriculture. poverty reduction, infrastructure, education and human rights.
The Ambassador will depart Belize on Friday, January 23.