P.M. Barrow Talks Record after 10 Years in Government
Belize is hardly alone regionally in economic malaise; many nations in the Caribbean region, whose governments are presently submitting budgets for consideration similar to others, have had similar sluggish economic growth or contraction in the last year. Unlike Belize, according to Prime Minister Dean Barrow, they have had no qualms about massive tax increases, like Jamaica, or resort to an International Monetary Fund program to restructure debt, like former Barbados Prime Minister Owen Arthur wants for his nation. Belize, on the other hand, intends to do things differently, and the Prime Minister says despite a few mistakes, the current Government has maintained, for the most part, strategic and managerial honesty.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow
“In those countries, the tax increases have been – what do they call it, ginormous? – And as I said, Owen Arthur is not just predicting, but urging an I.M.F. embrace. He says, as one of his reasons for doing that, that Barbados will never be able to restructure its debt, except it enters into an I.M.F. stand-by program. Owen, come dah Belize mek wi show yu how fi do it wid-out go da the I.M.F. (Applause). And what we have been able to do with the Superbond and otherwise of course is entirely relevant, but I pray it in aid to make this last point, Madam Speaker. The people of this country can trust and believe the U.D.P., because by our works they know us! (Applause) We have made our mistakes, and at the micro-level, faults have been revealed; but at the strategic and leadership level – at the top, where governance and administration are concerned – we have undoubtedly and visibly walked the straight and narrow. (Applause) Unlike when those on the other side were in Government, no policy of this administration; no contract with foreign investors; no helping hand to sectors – none of this has ever been designed or implemented with an eye to personal gain, or the main chance. Instead, we have striven mightily to keep our compact with the poor, with labour, with business, with the people. That is why what has struck me so forcefully is this: despite this tenth Budget, despite the laws of attrition, despite an inevitable degree of voter fatigue, despite a Budget that is tighter than we would have liked, no one was out there demonstrating against us. Demonstration, there indeed was; but – and I don’t know whether this is sweet irony, or condign justice – but the demonstration was against the Opposition.”
The Budget was passed in the House without division and went to the Senate without amendment.