‘Civil Disobedience’ called for as N.G.O.’s Show Disapproval
The condemnation of the Government’s plans has been widespread, from business to civil society to activist organizations to all major political organizations apart from the U.D.P. So what happens next? Eamon Courtenay, not normally one for rabble-rousing, told us today that the honorarium issue is serious enough that a campaign of civil disobedience – though he did not call it by that name – is needed. The message to the Government, by withholding tax monies and openly protesting on the streets, is that Government cannot be serious about being in austerity and tightening its belt on one hand and freely playing with hard-earned taxpayer dollars on the other.
Eamon Courtenay, Senator
“The deeper issue is, are we going to allow it to happen? Are we as Belizeans going to allow the Government to tell us that they are going to give away public funds – give it away? Not buy a service or a good, just give it away, for party political objectives? Are we going to allow that, or are we going to do something? It is obvious to everyone that the Government passed a Budget that has imposed a hundred million dollars in new taxes on Belizeans, and they want us to believe, after carrying that burden, that they have a million dollars lying around that isn’t assigned to anything, that can be used for their political purposes. I think it is time for us to take a stand. As I have said, I believe that people like Customs officers, should simply say that we are not processing any Customs entries; I think the business community and individuals should file their business tax return, file their G.S.T. return for April with no cheques and say to the Government, you obviously don’t need the money. And I think that if the Government does not reverse this decision, it’s time for us to take to the streets. Government needs to get the sense that they cannot impose taxes on people in a merciless way, and at the same time, take public money and distribute it to those they believe are the political supporters. This is an illegal enterprise and the Government needs to be stopped. To me, the arrogance, the audacity, the hubris, shows a Government that has lost its collective mind, and they consider themselves dictators in this country, and we need to stop them.”
This afternoon the Belize Network of Non-Governmental Organizations joined the call against the honorarium, calling it a poorly considered decision and mocking the current fiscal situation. The Network writes, “Many in the N.G.O. community are of the opinion that the poor state of Belize’s economy is as a result of several reasons, principal among them corruption, poor economic planning, the mismanagement of public funds, the crushing external debt, and lack of a vision and strategy for the sustainable development of Belize. The state of our economy will not improve unless G.O.B. institutes and demonstrates fiscal discipline. As we enter what will be tough times in this new fiscal year, the need to plan, and stick to plans, has never been more critical. That is the context for B.N.N.’s calls for transparency, better leadership, and partnership so that our country can have a brighter future.”