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    Thursday, 20 June 2019 02:39
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    Thursday, 20 June 2019 02:43
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Screen_Shot_2014-10-02_at_8.02.02_PMThe Corozal Town Local Planning Working Group, LPWG, hosted its fourth meeting today with members of the business community, principals and church leaders, to discuss the draft plan of the Belize Municipal Development Project for Corozal. The BMDP is a project implemented by the Social Investment Fund SIF, in collaboration with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Local Government that is dedicated to improve the access to basic municipal infrastructure and the enhancement of the municipal management in towns and cities of Belize.

Keisha Rodriguez – Urban Planning Officer

“We have been hosting stakeholder meetings in the seven municipalities that are involved in the Municipal Planning aspect of the Belize Municipal Development Project, since May 2013 we have worked with these seven municipalities including Corozal Town in preparing a Municipal Development Plan and now seven of the municipalities have drafted their Municipal Development Plan and we are meeting with various stakeholder groups to discuss with them the content of those plans are and to garner feedback from them in relation to the plans.”

Victor Castillo – Reporter

“When we are talking about the plans and the feedback what us exactly you organization is looking for?”

Keisha Rodriguez – Urban Planning Officer

“Well, the plans themselves they speak to assessments of the various municipalities, the vision to 2030 where the local planning working group that drafted the plan foresees the municipality going in the future and the various development scenarios including population growth , where people will live, land use proposals and as well as priority infrastructure investments and how the plans will be implemented so we are meeting with these various stakeholders to give them a brief overview of all these different things and for them to look at the plans when you send them copies electronically so they can tell us areas where we can improve the plan, the things that we might have not considered as we move toward the municipality allotted these plans.”

According to Urban Planning Officer, Keisha Rodriguez, the projects will be carried out in a span of 15 years. This means that if all goes as planned, by 2030 Corozaleños should witness a fully developed Corozal.

Keisha Rodriguez – Urban Planning Officer

“Well the plan speaks to various means of implementation, first and foremost finding financing for the various project that have been identified, although the plan is to 2030 we are having them to be revised every three to five years and even having small revision every year because the way how it is set up things will be done incrementally so for example we identified various streets that the municipalities would like to get done so maybe within a years’ period they will be able to get five of those streets paved up to the certain standards that the plans speaks to so maybe in a year they would have to look at identifying new streets that become priority, so there are incremental things and there is also smaller medium terms and also larger project so some projects will require maybe funding from external agencies, maybe a world bank or an IDB or even the government of Belize can look at these plans and see where they can best direct certain financing that is coming to municipalities, so the first and fore most is to make sure the municipalities and the stakeholders understand that we are looking at incremental approaches to development.”

Currently the Corozal Town Council has approximately 3 million dollars in tax arrears. If that money is collected, it would be of great assistance in the development of the project, according to Rodriguez.

Keisha Rodriguez – Urban Planning Officer

“One of the emphasis is for the municipalities to do some of what they can do especially small things on their own, many municipalities are not able to collect enough of their revenue to do capital projects so we are looking at for example a small catalyst project which is a short term project that they can do perhaps with the communities involvement that can build credibility and build trust within their people so that more people are willing to pay their taxes, the more people pay their taxes the more revenue there is for them to do more work so that is one of the emphasis within the plan.”

One of the main concerns brought up in the past three meetings by Corozaleños, is the relation and impact of job creation.

Clifford King – Local Gov’t Officer / SIF

“The people are very concerned about how do we relate these development in particular infrastructure development how do we relate them to job creation, economic development, increasing the vibrancy of the municipality, the appeal of the municipality to attract visitors, to keep people at home, to ensure that there is life within their municipality and there is an alternative for young people that the extent of the opportunity that young people will have within the municipality grows and so that you could keep people at home, you could become new attractive to bring in new monies and new investments so people are concerned on how do we link infrastructure development to economic opportunity, job creation and vibrancy of the municipalities.”

Victor Castillo – Reporter

“One important thing that I heard you mention in the meeting that not because this street is being paved it means because of a political affiliation which I guess it would be one of the major issues here in Corozal?”

Clifford King – Local Gov’t Officer / SIF

“Historically that is how people has viewed development that whenever infrastructure development is been done in a particular areas is because it is going to benefit some political person, these development that you are talking about how do we determine where to take development, what are the criteria that we use for development, now the plans clearly speak to, we do development because we are going to improve economic development, is going to increase entrepreneurship, is going to resolve in the payment of higher taxes for councils to do more, is going to deal with how do are going to deal with flooding, is going to address environmental issues and so those are some of the criteria that are being used to develop to determine where development should go.”

A similar meeting is scheduled for mid-October in Orange Walk.

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