Opposition Charges Fire Department’s Budget Should Not Have Been Cut
Two weeks ago, the PM tabled the 2017/2018 Budget. And while debate has been fast and furious on many issues, one that perhaps was lost in the marathon debate was the cut in the budget for the National Fire Service. Well, the conversation surrounding that cut has come to the fore in the wake of one of the biggest fires in the City in recent times. Area rep for Fort George Said Musa commented on the cut, putting into perspective the old equipment being used to douse the fire in the constituency he has served for decades. Musa, along with P.U.P. Party Leader John Briceño, call it a bad cut, saying the department needs new equipment to help minimize losses.
Said Musa, Area Rep, Fort George
“I heard the reports yesterday that when I came in too, that people were complaining bitterly about the slow response of the Fire Department. I don’t want to get into that because when you have a fire that has been the cry, nuh. But it is true. It is a fact that we do need more and better equipment for the Fire Department. So, I would appeal to Prime Minister to take this as a lesson. As a matter of fact, it was predicted in a way, yuh know, by the Honorable Cordel Hyde. He said it in the House – that you are cutting the budget of the Fire Department and God forbid that we will have a terrible fire tragedy. And lo and behold, it happened like the following day, so yeah.”
John Briceño, Leader of the Opposition
“It is so ironic that the Minister of State Minister of Castro was boasting about the work in his Ministry at the same time that this tragedy was taking place and we found out that as they ease to try to pretty up the budget, they slashed and slashed in the areas where we needed the attention and needed the resources and the fire department was going to be one of them. As we were told their budget was slashed by about a million dollars and it breaks our heart to find out that at the time of need – and it is no fault of the fire men and women- that the equipment experienced failure and I saw pictures they showed me that the hose looked like a sieve throwing water all over the place and so they could not fight the fire quickly to try to save as much as they can. I think it shows here that we have a Government that lacks any kind of vision; lack of trying to look at what are the real needs of the people and look at the pretty things that would make them look good. For instance, look at the forty-two million dollars on a basketball court – a stadium here in Belize City, instead of looking at the real needs. If the Fire Department had the equipment, I think it would not have been as bad as what we have here.”