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Mar 23, 2017

Were “Pro-Poor” Programs Actually Cut?

Hyde also went after what he called cuts to significant portions of the “pro-poor” programs initiated by the Barrow administration, including the food pantry, school feeding program and Apprenticeship Training. The figures, he claimed, were drastically slashed for no apparent reason. But Minister of Education Patrick Faber rose later in reply to say that with the “program budgeting” form now in place, the programs are now listed under recurrent revenue, meaning that they are here to stay.

 

Cordel Hyde

Cordel Hyde, Area Rep., Lake Independence

“Even after the Prime Minister boasted that they are preserving the protective armour for the poor, the food pantry and BOOST shield, for those at the margins, he says; even after all that, not a solitary dollar, not a red cent, has been allocated for the Cayo food pantry program. It is as if suddenly there is a dramatic transformation in Cayo, and there’s nobody any longer in Cayo who needs the food pantry program. All my friends in Cayo seem to be lying to me… (Interruption) Boy thank goodness it’s there; but the book weh I look pan have zero dollars for the food pantry program from Cayo, zero dollars – I could read zero; might noh read lotta thing but I can read zero; but maybe it’s somewhere else, granted. As if to make it amply clear that they intend to starve the poor – he disguised it, noh? – they have put a fatwa on the School Feeding and Nutrition Program of the Ministry of Education. They are allocating a measly eight thousand dollars for that program, you know – and last year they allocated five hundred thousand, they spent almost six hundred thousand, but the line item in this year’s Budget Book has eight thousand dollars! Da wah sick, sick joke, mein! You say you are pro-poor. That program is a good program that the Ministry of Education has. That program, hundreds of kids are benefitting, looking forward to a meal every day from that program, and you will give it eight thousand dollars – I noh know weh di gwaan. It’s like a socio-economic Superbond being cooked up right here. The much-heralded Apprenticeship Program has also been announced for death, and again I hope I am wrong. (Interruption) Superbomb, superbomb. Again, under the Apprenticeship Program, they allocated five hundred thousand dollars last year; they ended up spending three hundred and seventy-five thousand; in this year’s budget, they are only allocating thirty thousand dollars. That’s a program that provided much needed mentoring, stipend support and job placement for a number of Belize City youths. I just hope ah di read wrong, mein.”

 

Patrick Faber

Patrick Faber, Deputy Prime Minister

“He’s looking only at Cap Two, and when he sees cuts and is wondering where the money gone – well, Mr. Speaker, it has been moved to the recurrent; why? Because these programs and these initiatives are now a fixture to this Government’s activity; that is why it is in the recurrent – it’s not a project anymore, it’s not a one-shot deal. The people in Cayo are getting their food pantry and it will continue; it’s now a recurrent expense. The Apprenticeship Program will continue, Mr. Speaker; it’s now a recurrent expense. The Magazine [Road] Skills Training Program is a fixture now with this Government – it is a recurrent expense. The School Feeding Program is a recurring expense. That’s what the budget is saying.”

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