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Street Repair Plans Move Forward Government Proposes to Yield Island Tax Collections for Roads

Minister of Tourism, Hon. Godfrey Smith along with Anthony Mahler from the Belize Tourism Board, Mayor Elsa Paz, Hon. Manuel Heredia Jr. and the business community of San Pedro gathered once more at the Lions Den on Wednesday, January 17, to talk about the street project, come to a decision on what should be done and then forward the information to a cabinet meeting this coming week.

The purpose of the meeting was to come up with what should be done in regards of the southern road. Hon. Smith was present at the meeting to gather information in order for him to present at the cabinet meeting this coming week. The cabinet will then decide on how it can help San Pedro in the construction of the southern road.

The street project in a whole will cost approximately 8 million dollars. Hon. Smith stated that the government does not have enough money to support this project but that it is willing to look at San Pedro’s income in a whole and decide whether it can give back some of the revenue the town gives to central government.

There were several proposals presented; one of them suggested that a 2% hotel tax be implemented for a short period just until the street project is done and then it would go back to normal. Another suggestion was that transportation and pier fees be left in the island instead of being paid to government; incidentally transportation fees would have to be raised.

Hon. Smith commented about obtaining an 8 million dollar loan from the Belize Bank that would be charging 15-16% interest if paid in Belize dollars or 11% interest if paid in U.S. dollars. There is also the possibility that the government could get a loan from Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) but it would take longer for the street project to begin.

Another possibility that will be presented to cabinet this week will be a loan taken from the Social Security Board. This loan would offer a lower interest payment.

Many business representatives expressed their views on the street project and what their customers had told them about the street conditions. Many tourists had said that they would not return to the island because of the deplorable street conditions. And with this in mind the Mayor asked whether Barrier Reef Dr. should be done first or if the southern road should be the main concern. The majority present voted for the pavement of the southern road.

So with that in mind the meeting concluded with everyone agreeing that the southern road pavement to commence first using asphalt and then using cobblestone for the town core. The Minister of Tourism Hon. Godfrey Smith will present these ideas in a cabinet meeting which will take place on Tuesday, January 23, after which we should be receiving more information on what the cabinet agreed to do.

Caption:
1. Mayor Elsa Paz, Tourism Minister Godfrey Smith, Area Representative Manuel Heredia and BTB’s Anthony Mahler discuss plans at meeting
2. Frustrated residents attend meeting
3. Residents express their opinions about street conditions

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