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Mar 22, 2018

Budget Blast: P.U.P. Says Government Has Given Up

Day-one of the budget debate started this morning in Belmopan and up to news time it continues in an energized National Assembly, that had been downgraded from cold to near-Arctic.  The 2018-2019 General Revenue and Appropriation Bill was tabled two weeks ago.  The P.U.P. leader, John Briceño, assailed the vision of Prime Minister Dean Barrow and his government as delusional and completely ignoring the realities of Belizeans living on the ground. Referencing the recent municipal elections, Briceño said the people’s message has been ignored. He also presented his own vision for national renewal as reported by News Five’s Aaron Humes.

 

John Briceño

John Briceño, Leader of the Opposition

“This Budget, which one would have expected to reflect some of the serious problems facing the nation and provide a semblance of hope to Belizeans on the margins, or bring relief to the poor, fails in every aspect. This Budget can best be described as empty, hollow, devoid of any creativity. Where in the past there was glitter and references to Greek mythology, this Budget was dry, without vim or vigor, and certainly lacking in substance. Simply put, the Barrow budget lacked the usual “Barrow-gance”, as the Honorable Kareem Musa puts it; it has no glitter and no substance.”

 

Aaron Humes Reporting:

Leader of the Opposition John Briceño spared no quarter in his demolition of the future vision of Prime Minister Dean Barrow and the U.D.P. Government’s budget. He contends that with all the monies at their disposal, including the ever-widening tax base, the Government has provided no indication of how it intends to reduce poverty and grow the economy.

 

John Briceño

“In ten years this Barrow/Faber Administration has collected billions in taxes, added more than one point three billion to our national debt, all at a time when Belizeans are suffering more than ever before. And now this Budget promises little if any jobs, and growth so low that it is making us poorer and poorer, dia tras dia. Now more than ever, the Belizean people are tired. They are fed up and fatigued by a Prime Minister and an administration that is long on blaming others and short on producing results.”

 

Briceño threw the Prime Minister’s own words in his face when he spoke of what Belizeans have “no retreat” from.

 

John Briceño

“The fact is that today, after spending eighty million dollars in three years to provide social transformation, there is no transformation.  So Madam Speaker, whatever so called priorities the Prime Minister may have outlined in his budget speech, which resulted in his brimming optimism and unremitting confidence about the prospects of his budget, is only being felt in his inner circle, for he cannot reconcile such optimism with the reality of the Belizean masses. To paraphrase the Right Honorable Prime Minister, what Belizeans are feeling, is no retreat on crimes, no retreat on taxation, no retreat on poverty, no retreat on neglect… (Applause) no retreat from the crippling national debt, no retreat on the poor quality of life for average Belizeans.  Rather than optimism, Belizeans will tell you that things “dread” under the red.”

 

In Briceño’s own vision, Belizeans will be properly educated, have good jobs, and most importantly be spared the “urban terrorism” of gangs and crime generally.

 

John Briceño

“We need to build a safer and more caring Belize. The crime and violence that has swept our nation is our own kind of urban terrorism; it is destroying our families, tearing apart peaceful communities, and wrecking our future. Too many unnecessary deaths, too much tragedy, too much destruction.  We have spoken over and over about this, and as recently as two days ago, we laid out some plans on a way forward. And once again, once again, we stand ready to work with the government in a meaningful way to bring about an end to the violence. (Applause) And if this U.D.P. administration can be so vindictive and colorblind that they would refuse to support our new Belize City mayor, Bernard Wagner, and his P.U.P. City Council, in their social program to assist grieving mothers and their families through counseling, then the next P.U.P. Government will find the resources to support this noble effort (Applause and cheers). After all, we mean it when we say it’s “always ‘bout the people.”

 

Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.

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