Open Letter to the Prime Minister of Belize and Leader of the Opposition





June 16, 2017


The Rt. Honorable, Dean Barrow, Prime Minister

The Honorable, Johnny Briceno, Leader of the Opposition

Belmopan, Belize


Dear Sirs,


Belizean Citizens Abroad (BCA) is an organization committed to bringing together Belizeans living abroad in a non-partisan manner. Our goal is to empower and strengthen the democracy of Belize by working with ALL Belizeans at home as well as the Government of Belize on solutions and issues of concern to the community of Belizeans living overseas. As such, we are currently advocating for the equal rights of born Belizeans with dual citizenship.

We are asking for bi-partisan support for an amendment bill to remove the discriminatory provisions in our Constitution limiting the citizenship rights of born Belizeans who gain dual nationality and to reintroduce the same amendments as section 4 and 5 of the BELIZE CONSTITUTION (SEVENTH AMENDMENT) ACT, 2009 that purported to amend Sec 58(1) and 63(1) of the Belize Constitution. These discriminatory provisions in our Constitution limit the POLITICAL rights of born Belizeans and hamper our ability to solve many of the problems that Belize face in an ever-changing globalized world.

The Constitution of Belize contradicts the idealism of equal rights and equal protection under the law by establishing underclasses of citizenship.  Furthermore, the Constitution is in contravention of the very idea of human rights.  According to the United Nations Human Rights International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Article 25 – every citizen shall have a right to take part in the conduct of public affairs and to vote and be elected in periodic elections.

It is a travesty that foreign-born individuals who become Belizean dual citizens have more rights than born Belizeans who gain an additional citizenship.  This literally means that born Belizeans are second-class citizens in our own country.  Currently, there are thousands of born Guatemalans who have acquired Belizean citizenship enjoying more rights than born Belizeans who have acquired dual nationality.  This is so even though our Constitution bars Belizean citizenship to members of any country that claims Belize.  How can it be that despite a clear constitutional prohibition, a born Guatemalan with dual Belizean citizenship status can become Prime Minister, set policies, hold national decision-making positions determining Belize’s future, but a born Belizean with “dual citizenship” cannot?

BCA is ready and willing to work with both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition to table a historic, bi-partisan legislation to remove sections of the Constitution that limit rights for born Belizeans. We further ask that individuals originating from any country that claims any part of Belize be prohibited from attaining Belizean citizenship with only few, if any, exceptions. BCA strongly believes that the ministerial discretion granting citizenship to members of countries that claim Belize should be restricted with much clearer and narrower guidelines.

Finally, we urge Belizeans at home and in the diaspora to contact their respective Area Representatives and encourage them to support a national bi-partisan effort to amend the Constitution of Belize protecting the equal rights of ALL born Belizeans.


Belizean Citizens Abroad


President: Mario Lara

Vice President: Joseph Guerrero

Treasurer: Al Smith

Communication Director: Debbie Curling

Secretary: Aria Lightfoot

Prime Minister of Belize Independence Day Speech 2015

Prime Minister of Belize  Hon. Dean Barrow

Prime Minister of Belize
Hon. Dean Barrow

Independence Day

September 21 this year arrives to the accompaniment of an even greater than usual celebratory chorus. And the multiple positive developments occurring during the first three quarters of 2015, have appeared to reach a flood just in time for Independence Day. Thus it is that we have now procured vindication in what was an ongoing battle to win final acceptance of our decision to take back the Belizean patrimony constituted by our nation’s essential public utilities.

For my Administration, It is almost impossible to overstate the significance of the BEL and BTL settlements. After all, this has been for us a kind of second sovereignty campaign. Now, after six years of struggle, those two fundamental Belizean assets are ours to have and hold forevermore. And to further concretize this achievement, let me announce right away that Government will be offering an additional 10% of the shareholding in both companies to the Belizean-and I stress Belizean-public, including the two companies’ employees. In the case of BEL it will mean a seat on the Board for the small shareholders, and in the case of BTL it will mean a second seat for those small shareholders. Altogether, then, it will give citizens a chance to participate in the running of the nationalized entities; and, perhaps more important, to share in the profits that the two companies are making and will continue to make. We therefore think it meet and right that all Belizeans embrace this second coming; and that this year, in these circumstances, we give particular swell to the strains of patriotism that annually animate our anniversary festivities.

The settlement capstone coming now, is a fitting acme to all that’s been happening since the start of this year. For truly the nine months between January and this day, saw social and infrastructural advances in our country that took us to the summit of those heights we have been scaling since 2008. And there is yet more infrastructure progress to come, as you shall hear in a moment.

But on the social side I want at once to express my great satisfaction at the record salary increases that, for the second year in a row, we have been able to give to our civil servants: to our teachers and nurses and doctors and soldiers and policemen and all public officers.

Our economy is doing well. The great growth of the first quarter was succeeded by a small contraction in the second, due to some difficulties with commodities and in particular the huge resource decline in oil. But grains will recover from drought, shrimp from disease, and citrus from the market conditions that saw a temporary fall in price. Meantime we are still at 2.7% in GDP year-over-year increase, inflation is just about the lowest in the region, and unemployment is significantly down.

Because we expect continued economic and revenue growth, next year should see a third salary raise for Government workers and this is really quite extraordinary. They are the largest individual sector workforce, and the multiplier effect of these big boosts in their disposable income cannot be stressed enough. They are also the bulwark of our middle class. And this Administration has always been focused on two things: bootstrapping the poor, and expanding the middle class. It is with pride, then, that we point to the social protection and job-creation efforts (especially in construction) we have chartered for those at the margins; and the growing of the public service middle class by the reclassification of administrative grades and the net rise of pay scales. In both cases, our National Bank has completed the equation by providing hitherto undreamed of access to affordable, indeed cheap, credit.

Talking about employment and wages, gives me a chance to address the situation of the workers at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital. Their case is a special one. They are not, with the exception of a few seconded from the public service when the KHMH Authority came into being, Government employees. So strictly speaking their conditions of service, including salary, have nothing to do with GOB. But you can’t tell them that. They know that Government still subsidizes the KHMH, and in fact to the tune of 36.4 million dollars annually. It is out of this subsidy that their salaries come, they see that GOB has been able to find more to pay its public officers, and they want equal treatment, the same access to Government’s bounty. While the situation is not quite as straightforward as they make out, we have heard their cry. And the position is that GOB will find the funds to provide them with the salary increase that, after negotiations, was agreed with the KHMH Board and the Cabinet sub-committee. We demanded something in return, though. We expect that the staff and administration at the KHMH will begin to demonstrate immediately their ability to engage in efficient cost recovery and the cutting of waste; and that they will start to move now towards the financial self-sustainability that autonomy for the KHMH was supposed to mean. Also, as a matter of principle GOB does not want simply to hand over the monies for the salary increase as a gift. We will therefore treat it as a buyout of the debt owed by consumers, by the Belizean public, to the KHMH. As of year-end 2014, that total in unpaid bills amounted to around 9 million dollars. Of course, in trading off these bills that people owe to the KHMH, we won’t be giving KHMH dollar for dollar. We will, though, pay them enough to do two things. The first is to fund the salary increase to the expected tune of just about 2 million dollars. And the second is to assist with residual costs for the new, state of the art, PICU/NICU that is to be opened next month.

The figure for this should not exceed another million dollars, since the bulk of equipment and construction monies has already been provided by the fund-raising efforts headed by my wife. At the risk of being accused of nepotism by those that do not know the proper meaning of the word, I pause now to ask you for a round of applause for Kim Simplis-Barrow; and for all, especially Oak Foundation, that contributed to making the PICU/NICU a reality.

So… This write-off to the public of 9 million dollars in their unpaid KHMH bills, which the collection agency hired by the KHMH will now no longer be hounding anyone for, is this year’s Independence Day gift to people from the Government of Belize. For the sake of completeness, and to make that gift even greater, we will also forgive all monies currently owing by patients to all Government hospitals throughout the country. This amounts to another 2 million dollars and, we are sure, will be especially appreciated by residents of our towns and villages.

Ladies and Gentlemen, my fellow Belizeans:

I said I would return to the issue of infrastructure and I do so now.

I want to point out that I had said earlier this year that we were going to roll out PetroCaribe to the rural areas, and we have done so with a vengeance. Since March we have spent around 20 million dollars in village constituencies, and we are not done yet. We have reached every single constituency, if not every single village, and this UDP transformation phenomenon is now truly countrywide, truly national.

A while ago I spoke of the economy and was pleased to emphasize its basic soundness. What I wish now to do, is to underscore that tourism remains our single largest driver, and talk a little about our plans to continue encouraging its star turn. These include additional marketing and quality improvement efforts. But they also include destination infrastructure improvement, and there are three projects in that connection that I wish to highlight. First, there is the continuation of the North Ambergris Caye road project. We have just signed a contract for the construction of another 4 miles of the road providing land access to the premier resorts on North Ambergris, making for a total of 11 miles that we have already funded. When this next phase is completed we will sign for the last few miles to take us to the Basil Jones airstrip, which we will redevelop, redesign and expand into an international airport. I am also happy to announce that Basil Jones will be renamed the Efrain Guerrero International Airport in honour of the eponymous, recently deceased San Pedro patriot. With this, we expect a phenomenal new opening up, a veritable tourism explosion, in Ambergris Caye, which is of course already our market leader.

We are also constructing a new road to Lamanai via Bermudan Landing and Lemonal. That contract has also been signed, and this will mean that Lamanai will now form part of the day trip circuit for cruise passengers and provide increased tourism opportunities to Orange Walk and to the Belze Rural North villages along the route.

Finally, and this really will constitute a new jewel in the tourism crown, we are going to do a paved highway to Caracol, with two points of origin from Georgeville and Santa Elena. We are funding locally, and have already signed the contract for, road rehabilitation from Cristo Rey to San Antonio and thereafter to the junction with the Georgeville road. Then the OPEC and Kuwaiti Funds, which are already doing the rehabilitation of the Hummingbird Highway, will partner together to take us the 40 plus miles from the junction to Mountain Pine Ridge and then to Caracol. In addition to the huge tourism boost this will provide, it also carries tremendous implications for a quantum improvement in our security protection arrangements for the Caracol area.

Talking about security, we are pleased with the disbursement start now of the 30 million U.S. Cabei loan. As has been detailed, the monies will assist the police, the BDF and the Coast Guard.

The improvement in forensic capability that is part of the deal should, together with improved policing, lead to a better crime solving and conviction rate. The community outreach of the police especially on Southside Belize City, will combine with a second surge in hope and improved living and job conditions that the commencement now of Southside Poverty Alleviation Project Phase 2 represents. Under that programme, a total of 37 million dollars is being spent on the Southside constituencies. The money funds improved streets and drains; land reclamation and landfill for low-lying yards; construction of new homes and home improvement; education, training and social development. This dramatic GOB infusion of money and resources, together with the revised Southside strategy of the police high command, should contribute to the reversal of the spike in the Belize City murder rate that this year brought.

The Coast Guard will get two new, latest model vessels for maritime protection and illegal drugs and fishing interdiction. And the BDF will be able to acquire multiple additional assets that, along with the one helicopter already confiscated and the two more coming from Taiwan by Christmas, will greatly increase its capacity as the front line guardian of our territorial integrity.

Of course, the BDF will also build the forward operating base on the North Bank of the Sarstoon River as it continues to assert and exercise Belizean sovereignty in that area. This is a sovereignty that Government and all our security forces, as a matter of first principle and existential duty, will always wholly maintain. But we do not need civilians, however well-intentioned, to complicate matters. In flashpoint situations, preservation of the sovereignty and security equation must be left to our trained, professional, and highly skilled military; a military that has time and again demonstrated its ability to take care of business and perform at a level out of all proportion to its small size.

Before I close, a word to our private sector.

The settlements with Fortis and the former BTL shareholders, will in time no doubt bring increased opportunities to partner with Foreign Direct Investment. But even now, relying only on local resources, chances are going begging. There is, for example, still not enough advantage being taken of the excess liquidity in the system. Government is therefore committed to helping you, the Central Bank and the commercial banks, work through issues that continue to bedevil the lending institutions and access to credit. Tax reform, which will rationalize the business climate and provide breaks even as it closes loopholes and seeks to address abuse, is at long last in train. And Government is determined to make doing business in this country easier, something that has to become the foremost mandate of the ministry of trade and commerce.

But I repeat that our economic fundamentals are good. Our debt trajectory, especially with compensation for the nationalizations being way below what the pessimists had projected, is eminently manageable. And with the buyout of high interest SuperBond debt with low interest PetroCaribe funds, our prospects are excellent over the longer term. As with the other sectors, then, the world-or at least Belize’s corner of it-is your oyster. We urge you, therefore, to go forth and profit.

Ladies and Gentlemen, My Fellow Belizeans:

I conclude by saying that the shades of our National Heroes, of George and Philip, are keeping watch over us. George Price was the father of our Independence and Philip Goldson the defender of our democracy. There is, in my view, quite a confluence occurring now and we are proceeding to build on two foundational legacies. We do so by consolidating economic sovereignty and cross hatching it with George Price’s political sovereignty and territorial integrity; and by expanding social protection and increasing individual opportunity to make perdurable Philip Goldson’s free speech, libertarian democracy.

In doing this my Administration, as always, seeks to do right by all the people of Belize. And as a Government on this last Independence Day before the next general elections, we stand before the bar of history fully expectant of a judgment recognizing us as the good and faithful servants we have always striven to be. So, confident in the job we have done and the support of our citizens, my Cabinet and I wish each and every Belizean, at home and abroad, a Happy Independence Day.

Que viva Belize y Dios nos bendiga.










Daily Dingleberry 01-11-13 For the Slow and Stubborn



Ok. I really am getting tired of being targeted just because I ask for evidence. I have no problem asking the hard questions and socking it exactly where it belongs. But PLEASE do not get uppity when I ask for proof. Spreading rumours and crazy conspiracy theories will not help anything. That is just irresponsible. You can not say you love this country and its people when you engage in rumour mongering and propaganda. That obscures the real efforts to find the truth. Do you hear me???????  Our biggest problem is collection of evidence. While we are spreading rumours about how much the gang leaders were paid off, from $1500 each plus room and board to $40,000 each, where the hell is your concern for the murdered men???? You should be yelling and screaming about how the crime scene was handled. You should be yelling and screaming about how the bloody coroner might not have run tox screens or how he keeps giving different times of death…THAT is the concern here! Without evidence, none of this matters! Focus people. But see. That’s just it, right? You don’t really care about justice. You care more about causing hysteria and furthering your political agendas.



Find out what it means so you can show some.

You need to find out who did this because either way, it is the signal of greater changes to come.  If it is an international cartel, you have a serious problem you have not even begun to understand. If it is a state hit, you need to realize that miscarriage of justice is NEVER ok, no matter how much disregard you have for alleged criminals. Our justice system is in shreds. Nothing good can ever happen as long as we keep chasing our tails instead of real hard truth.

Happy Birthday Twocanview and Merry Christmas to All!


One year ago on December 26th, 2011, Twocanview splashed onto the Internet scene with a hard-hitting poem ‘Jingle Bells’ by Fayemarie Anderson Carter ( and an article ‘Reflection’ by Aria Lightfoot.  (

The idea of Twocanview was borne to address issues in Belize normally too taboo to discuss, or due to political affiliation, fear of retaliation or apathy, not addressed.  We are two Belizean women, giving a bird eyes view of our beautiful country Belize.   We chose the name Twocanview as a play on the word toucan, Belize’s national bird.

What was the year like?

Twocanview’s articles brought out very strong mixed emotions from readers and from writers of Twocanview alike.  We were enthusiastically encouraged to continue by some; some readers were deeply offended, even those we were not talking about; our Belizeanness were called into question; one person threatened to ‘bring down’ Twocanview (the most hilarious threat);  we were blocked and reported as spam;  we were called insignificant;  we were ignored;  we were taken very seriously;  we were prayed for;  we were called evil and one fanatical church lady called for my personal arrest when I reach Belize.  Some opposition members accused us of being an arm of the government and the government had no idea what to make of us.  Maybe starting a controversial blog months before a major General Elections could make a lot of people ‘naaavous’ and suspicious.

As the year progressed, many people calmed down, and many of our readers developed a level of trust for us.  We received many tips on stories and many times people reached out for us to address issues and helped to add credence to our articles.  Faye and I have been very clear and consistent in our writing. We are anti-corruption, pro-Belize and we are adding our voice to the discourse to move Belize forward. We firmly believe that Belizeans want the same things, regardless of political affiliation, social or financial status.

Over the year, we promoted a successful writing contest with the winner, Andre Alamilla, receiving over 1000 dollars in gift and prizes through the generous contribution of our readers. We were also featured in the Independent Newspaper;  we had the opportunity to interview the Prime Minister of Belize, Dean Barrow and also met several past and present members of House of Representatives.  Several writers contributed to Twocanview with opinion pieces of their own and Twocanview also sponsored a child through Restore Belize hoping to make a difference if only in one child’s life.

In our first year,  Twocanview wrote 355 articles, received 1,132 comments from readers,  had more than 48,000 hits. About 800 email subscribers, 40 blog followers and almost 400 Facebook likes.   The most read story in one day was “The mishandling of the Jasmine Lowe investigation” ( which had over 4250 views in one day and reprinted by two small newspapers.  Our blog has been viewed in Belize, USA, Canada, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East.  Even though we do not blog daily or weekly we still get about 50-100 daily viewers.

The year has seen some ups and downs. Faye and I have disagreed on how to address certain issues and as passionate women, we made our stand.  Our writing is real and emotional and driven by our love of country.  We have also received very good, not so good, rude and interesting feedback from professors, co-bloggers and just about anyone with an opinion.  The last few months we have had less articles due to school and work obligations for myself and Faye began pursuing other projects.

What is in store for 2013?

As I become acclimated with working full time, I plan to continue blogging in the New Year. The membership has been renewed and in 2013 Twocanview, will continue to bring to readers perspective on issues we think are of national importance. Belize is too important to us.  We will not go quietly into the night and promise to continue our advocacy of good governance for Belize.  We wish you a very merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year. Please continue reading and spreading the birdflew.

Where does the truth lie? by Aria Lightfoot

John McAfee


John McAfee gave an interview to the wire. Please see link here: McAfee Claims Innocence.

So who is telling the truth Belizeans?

The alleged drug crazed McAfee with a thirst for attention and who previously vowed to bring the name of Belize down or the  powerful   alleged “rights violating” GSU ?  It is an interesting development in our small country  of Belize.  Power games being played.

Now here is what I don’t get. Why does McAfee still want to remain in Belize? He  claims he is deathly afraid of being killed and he stated that even the Prime Minister is out to get him…but yet he remains in Belize because Belize is “the nicest place on earth”?  He claims the murder of his neighbor was a case of mistaken identity.  However, how many mistaken identities happen in the home of the deceased?  I could understand a street assassination of mistaken identity but Faull was killed in his home with a single gun shot to his head.   Anyone see the inconsistencies here? And when does a suspect get to decide whether he will speak to the police?  He has been shamelessly wielding his special privileges and highlighting our corrupt system in our faces.

The media, namely Love FM seems reluctant to report the news of this event. Patrick Jones Facebook page which is normally a daily page of carnage and bloodshed was mum.  What is up with their silence? Is Love FM intimidated? and if they are…maybe they should stop reporting news.

The international media is all over it. NBC, Wall Street Journal and several internet blogs has picked up the news.  They seem to know more information than Belizeans. Vidal had no problem fingering McAfee as the suspect…late rumblings have changed it to a “person of interest”.   Would McAfee be crazy enough to create this stir himself? Is he being set up?  Games Games and more Games.  We cannot live in  country with two sets of laws. One where we enforce  strict compliance upon the poor and then look the other way for the rich. We will send our country in anarchy and Guatemala is happily waiting to take it over if we do.


Salima Barrow takes on Cancer…

Salima Barrow

Young Salima Barrow was apprehensive as she witnessed her mother , Mrs. Kim Simplis Barrow, go thru the fight of her life. She wanted to do something to honor her mother and wanted to raise funds while raising Cancer Awareness. I spoke to 7 year old Salima tonight and she is excited to be able to contribute in some way. She said she wanted to do something “a long long long time ago, from she was 3 but her mommy would not let her”. She made me smile.  I am sure in her mind,  her mother must have been battling Cancer for as long as she can remember. Children have simple yet powerful ways of articulating their feelings.    Salima is only 7 and time is relative for her. A year of missed events with her mom must have felt like forever.  Salima knows the importance of raising funds to help with the life saving treatments for kids with Cancer.  Salima is a young lady with a plan to raise “lots of  money”  for cancer. She also wants to meet the kids affected by cancer.  When I was a child myself , I witnessed too many of my own family members afflicted, so I wholeheartedly embrace and endorse her drive.   Please assist Salima, along with a few of her friends,(Haley, Abigail & Gianni) and the generous sponsorship of Bowen and Bowen,  in a worthwhile fund raising event to help fund the Children’s Cancer Wing. I have pledged $100.00 and hope you can donate  or support her initiative by attending the event and purchasing a few drinks.  Remember,  Cancer is a disease that does not discriminate.  Salima’s class from Hummingbird Elementary School will also be having a similar event on November 30, 2012.


Daily Dingleberry 08-24-12 Wheel and Leave The House ‘Till You Learn Some Manners

This is irksome and tragic….we need better quality  leadership than this. One in a position of authority should handle himself with a certain decorum, his influence with caution…this is a shameful display of immaturity and disrespect for his office, the government and the people….this show of machismo was unnecessary and frankly scary. The following is a long winded response to a question posed by Julius Espat.
Dean Barrow
“Mr. Speaker, as I believe you pointed out, he has to learn that in fact in here you and the standing orders govern and so he needs to learn these standing orders. He needs to try to educate himself; he needs to try to school himself so that he may be able to apply the standing orders to his duty. This is what forms the matrix of his representation and when he does that he will perhaps learn how properly to ask questions in order to get the answers that he seeks. Now, why have I engaged in this fairly long, prefatory introduction? Because you see Mr. Speaker, in terms of his question, I can say categorically that Ambassador Mark Espat has been appointed as an ambassador for economic affairs without any kind of remuneration. He gets no salary at all, no pay for that. With respect to the Debt Renegotiation Team, this is where the member gets into trouble. If he had the wit and sense and if he had perhaps studied his standing orders he might have framed his question differently because, you see, as he has put it down the short answer is that Mark Espat also gets absolutely no money, no pay, no remuneration for his work with the Debt Renegotiation Team. There is a company called Hallmark Advisory Ltd. and it’s with that entity that the government has entered into a contract. You may have framed, you might have, as I said if you had the wit and sense, you might have framed your question in such a way that I could have given you the answer. But since you asked specifically whether Mark Espat is being paid the short answer is no. Now you can come back next time and ask me about the professional rates of fees that are part of the contract with Hallmark Advisory and I will be more than happy to give the answer to you but yoh know how ears hard pickney haffi go da market two times, wheel and come again.”

Mein….leave all that posturin for the dancehall…pull up yu pantz G.

Daily Dingleberry 08-03-12 Define Normal Please!!!!!!!!!!

Dis-Honourable. Gaspar Vega

Taken from the transcript of 7 News Belize 08-02-12

Jules Vasquez
“Would you accept the characterization that – this is what the PUP said; normal people have to wait in line, have to jump through hoops for years to get a piece of land.”

Hon. Gaspar Vega
“Jules I am not a normal person in Belize. I work much harder than a lot of other people.”


So uhm what exactly does this mean? That you think you’re above the law now because you are a Minister? Look pendejo! You’re right. You are NOT normal. You are put in a place of authority and responsibility. That means Mr. Vega, that unlike everybody else, YOU CAN’T THIEF! You, of all people, are expected to be a model citizen, one who knows, understands AND upholds the law.

Your lone attitude and casual words show  how corrupt and therefore undeserving you are of your position. I call for your resignation, effective immediately and that you  are dealt with swiftly in every accordance of the laws of our country.

So, Mr. Dean Barrow, what you gonna do with this thieving son of a bitch?


For full transcript of interview, click here:

“Belize ”Boosts” School Attendance and Access to Financial Services for the Poor” : The World Bank

The deal is simple: vaccinate your children, send them to school; and, if you are pregnant, visit your public health center, regularly starting with the first 12 weeks. In exchange, the BOOST Program will give you a monthly allowance between BZ$44 and BZ$82 (US$22 – US$41) per person, up to a maximum of six per household.

The BOOST program, which stands for Building Opportunities for Our Social Transformation, provides small cash assistance to poor households subject to specific conditions.

A little over a year in operation, it already reaches 3,177 households (12.5% of all Belize poor households) and over 8,600 people, which represents about 6% of the poor population.

Despite the recent launch of the BOOST Program (February 2011), some of its current features already match or surpass best practices in the world. Recorded school attendance for children included in the program is at 97.3% (3238 of 3328 students, May 2012).

Thanks to this program, Rosario Chub from Punta Gorda, Toledo, is able to provide for the basic needs of her children and keep them in school.  “The Program is good. It is helping people. I am doing a lot with this little money. Now the children have shoes, food and uniforms.”

The program has also been positively received among school principals. Rossana Briceño, principal of St Peter’s Anglican School in Orange Walk, said that “at the end of the day, the kids are doing better.  Absenteeism is a lot less, and I see these children now and they want to come to school.”

I am doing a lot with this little money. Now the children have shoes, food and uniforms.

Rosario  Chub BOOST beneficiary

The program features a differentiated payment structure by grade and gender, to address relatively high drop-out rates for boys. These are added incentives to complete standard grades and advance into secondary education.

Access to bank services

The BOOST Program is also supporting poor households in accessing financial services, such as savings and micro-loans as a first step towards their financial independence.

BOOST is expanding membership of credit unions, and strengthening the savings and productive investment potential of beneficiary households. At present, 81% of the program beneficiaries receive safe, secure transfers at zero cost through the credit unions.

“I am now a member of the credit union and I want to start saving money for the children”, says Rosario Chub, who, like other beneficiaries, has also increased her access to saving and other financial services.

“The BOOST Program has achieved a level of financial inclusion of program beneficiaries that far exceeds similar programs that have been in operation for 15 years”,  said Rogelio Gomez Hermosillo, the former Director of the Oportunidades Program in Mexico, which reaches 30 million households.

In fact, a new report by the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) finds a much higher rate of beneficiaries with access to bank services in BOOST than in the two largest conditional cash transfer programs in the region, at 43% in Brazil and 25% in Mexico.

The first step of a larger movement

For the past two years, the World Bank has provided technical assistance to support the design of the BOOST Program, including knowledge exchanges with conditional cash transfer experts from Jamaica and Mexico.

The new phase of technical assistance aims to provide flexible support to address the central operational challenges of the Program and make recommendations on different approaches to strengthen program operations.

“The BOOST Program represents a significant step forward to develop a smart social safety net that promotes human capital growth, savings, and productive investments by poor households, but it is only the first step of a larger movement that is needed to strengthen the quality and accountability of social spending in Belize,” says Sarah Berger Gonzalez, World Bank Social Protection Specialist.

Despite the advances, operational challenges remain, resulting from the rapid ramp-up, limited financing and small number of program personnel. Limited financial envelopes have resulted in the number of qualified, eligible households exceeding enrolment by 30%.

Other challenges include the need to strengthen communication of program objectives and responsibilities, coordination of actions across ministries, and monitoring of information to assess program impacts.


Here is a discussion of the program when the PM was interviewed by Twocanview.