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Mar 9, 2018

Opposition on Budget: ‘Lifeless, Bogus…No Glitter and No Substance’

John Briceño

If the Prime Minister sounded somewhat lukewarm concerning the new Budget, Leader of the Opposition John Briceño is downright cold. Offering his first impressions ahead of the debate in two weeks time, he called it lifeless. And he added, playing on an old sobriquet of his opposite number, that it was no glitter and no substance. With nothing to address critical national issues in place, Briceño was confident enough to issue a call to the Prime Minister for early general elections. He also noted that the new “data tax” strikes at the pockets of those who most use it.

 

John Briceño, Leader of the Opposition

“The Prime Minister was known as always talking, all glitter and no substance; well today, it’s no glitter and no substance, because there’s nothing in that budget; it’s lifeless. He talks nothing about crime, about the social ills affecting us. He’s talking about him being the enabler – the only enabling he has done [is of] is some U.D.P. millionaires that we have been profiling on television. There’s nothing. Look, if he did not take this very same thing – remember when he used to criticize the P.U.P. about these ‘below-the-line’ items; here the B.T.L. settlement, he said he is treating it as below-the-line, something that we paid for from the Budget. If you were to include that, we wouldn’t have enough money to pay the rent; pay light bill and to pay teachers. That is why he has been living off borrowed money, issuing treasury bills and treasury notes, sucking up all the liquidity in the banking system. So I don’t know what the Prime Minister is talking about, about a fourth term? If he is so confident, bring it on. When you come to the issue of data or access to the Internet, that has been the most fastest growing sector of the telecommunications industry, including the cable industry because in the cable industry, there’s hardly any growth, people are moving more to data. So basically what the Prime Minister is doing now is putting a new tax on the Belizean people, especially the middle class and the lower middle class who are struggling, who are sure now that access to the Internet or data is a necessity – every child that goes to school, when they go home they need to have Internet. And now what is the Prime Minister doing? Taxing those families, taxes ensuring that those poor children and families are going to have even more troubles. Listen to me: the Prime Minister promised the cane farmers three hundred thousand dollars to fix their sugar roads – they haven’t gotten the money yet! They did not get that money. This budget is bogus. It is a lifeless budget. It is no glitter and no substance.”

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