The Government of Belize and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a U.S. government agency, signed a Compact Development Funding Grant Agreement today. Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño signed on behalf of the Government of Belize and Jonathan Brooks, Deputy Vice President of Europe, Asia, Pacific, and Latin America, signed for MCC. U.S. Ambassador Michelle Kwan and Ministry of Economic Development CEO Dr. Osmond Martinez also attended the signing ceremony.
The Government of Belize and MCC are working in partnership on the development of an MCC compact. MCC compacts are five-year grant programs that aim to reduce poverty by increasing economic growth. Based on an analysis of the constraints to economic growth, MCC and the Government of Belize agreed to focus compact development on two key constraints to sustainable and inclusive growth in Belize:
• Education: Low quality of education has led to a shortage of trained professionals in all industries.
• Electricity: High cost of electricity drives up input costs for all industries.
The Government of Belize submitted two concept papers to MCC that described the strategic approach and general activities that the Government of Belize would like to undertake through a compact program with MCC to address the selected constraints. The objective of the proposed Education Project is to increase the availability of post-primary graduates with the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values relevant to current and anticipated labor market demands by promoting universal access to secondary education, transforming teaching and learning, and reducing skills gaps in key growth industries.
The objective of the proposed Electricity Project is to decrease the wholesale cost of electricity and ultimately the retail tariff by improving governance capacity; supporting Belize to implement its utility-scale renewable energy expansion plans; and enabling the government, businesses, and households to make investments in distributed generation and improve energy-efficient practices.
The Compact Development Funds will be used to assist Belize in further developing a compact and will support project definition, project development (data collection, activity design, and feasibility studies), and administrative costs. As the compact is still in development, the total compact funding amount has not yet been determined.
The Government of Belize has established a project development unit—the Belize Compact Development Team—under the Ministry of Economic Development to work with MCC on developing the compact. The goal is to develop a high-quality, evidence-based, and sustainable program aimed at addressing the education and electricity constraints in an inclusive manner that drives growth and reduces poverty.