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Jul 11, 2012

The great debaters: Musa Barrow and Fonseca on 2012/2013 Budget

The Prime Minister read the 2012/2013 budget on June twenty-ninth. It has been called everything including austere, spartan, slim and disciplined. Today in parliament, elected representatives from the government and Opposition squared off and took turns either applauding or shredding the budget. Prime Minister Dean Barrow, Opposition Leader Francis Fonseca and former P.M. Said Musa took center stage in the verbal calculations on the country’s finance and their words had little budget for time because the debate continued late into the evening. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports from the Capital.

 

Isani Cayetano

“Day one of a two-day debate where parliamentarians from both sides of the floor within the House of Representatives are arguing the merits of the General Revenue Appropriation Bill commenced this morning with Leader of the Opposition Francis Fonseca addressing the fiscal budget [for] 2012/2013.”

 

Francis Fonseca

Francis Fonseca, Leader of the Opposition

“This budget is being presented three months after the start of the new fiscal year and there is no indication as to the amount of expenditure that has taken place since the start of the new fiscal year 2012/2013.  In other words, we are debating a budget and we don’t know how much of this budget has already been spent.”

 

Despite being advertised as a disciplined budget, the financial plan, drafted and presented by the Barrow Administration at the beginning of the second quarter of this fiscal year, is a robust proposal, the first of its kind under the U.D.P. government to hover above a billion dollars.  The excess, according to the Minister of Finance, takes into account the repayment of the Super Bond.  The opposition, nonetheless, views the austerity of this budget as a stark contrast to the pronouncements P.M. Barrow made in 2011.

 

Francis Fonseca

“He boasted to the nation of success and a return to growth.  “We have turned things around and once more are free to fly!”  You remember those famous words.  “It is onward and upward,” he proudly proclaimed.  “Free to fly onward and upward.”  Well Mr. Speaker, the prime minister’s flight seems to have crash landed.”

 

Not surprisingly, the budget debate was alive with verbal pyrotechnics, as evidenced by Fonseca’s citation of an exchange between the Prime Minister and C.E.O. in the Ministry of Agriculture, Gabino Canto, during an economic forum in November of last year.

 

Francis Fonseca

“In a moment of absolute candor and frustration [he] mumbled, “no wonder people say we are incompetent and nine times out of ten they are correct.”

 

Dean Barrow

The quote, needless to say, drew the ire of the P.M., who later argued that the now infamous line was fictitious.

 

Dean Barrow

“Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition is engaging in fabrication, telling a complete untruth.  In other words, if the rules had permitted me I woulda mi say ih liad, but since I can’t say that I make the point that he really cannot be allowed to get away with that sort of fabrication.”

 

Barbs aside, the discussion which got off to a considerably mild start, focused primarily on what the People’s United Party considers government’s incompetence in allocating resources to address the principal issues affecting the country.

 

Francis Fonseca

“Belizeans continue to live under the threat of violence and criminality on a scale unprecedented in the modern, independent Belize.  Law abiding citizens live in fear.  Whenever another murder or robbery or home invasion takes place, people’s sense of security is negatively impacted and investment and economic growth are stymied.”

 

Minister of National Security, John Saldivar failed to comment on the current crime situation and how efforts to meaningfully address crime and a poor murder conviction rate, fit into the budget.  Instead, Saldivar lauded the budget for its ambitious scope and its continued inclusion of the pro-poor initiatives.

 

John Saldivar

John Saldivar, Minister of National Security

“Congratulating my Prime Minister and his team at the Ministry of Finance for the splendid work in still managing to put together such a workable, righteous budget under most difficult and challenging circumstances.  A budget, Mr. Speaker, that preserves the unprecedented advances made in championing the cause of the poor and the marginalized.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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5 Responses for “The great debaters: Musa Barrow and Fonseca on 2012/2013 Budget”

  1. Storm says:

    Nobody spoke that I care to hear on the question of wisely spending the people’s hardearned money. The old regime failed when they had the pursestrings, and the new regime does little better.

    Unless we are at war, there is no moral justification for approving a deficit — that simply means borrowing more to be paid back by future workers, reducing what they can spend for future needs.

    Can’t they see from Greece and the other nations in default in Europe where that path leads? If the deficit is so minor, then slash it to nothing! Heaven knows many proposed programs are bloated, wasteful, and even totally unnecessary.

  2. drose flowers says:

    THE BEST CIRCUS IN TOWN IN BACK PUDP, NO OF THEM MAKE ANY SENSE, ITS THE SAME STORY OVER AND OVER, THE ONLY THING THAT IS CHANGE IS THE CLOWNS THAT EXCHANGE PLACES. LONE MF

  3. alley cat says:

    I just can’t believe that Musa had the gall to even open his mouth.

  4. Die Hard UDP says:

    I am sorry to say but I think Barrow is losing his edge, he seems not focused and easily frazzled, sorry for Belize if he loses it his Ministers will go wild it will be a free for all pinata the nest four years. I think he shoud officailly step aside.

  5. BMNJ says:

    Talking of violent crimes, why is it that neither PUP nor UDP mentioned anything about the reintroduction of capital punishment? Francis Fonseca mentioned about murders,etc. Why didn’t he say this: “Mr Speaker, as the leader of the opposition, I personally plead to PM Barrow to bring back capital punishment ASAP.” The main theme of the meeting is to bash each other rather than finding solutions. I am still waiting for the House to host a special meeting just to introduce back the capital punishment. But sad to say this but nobody, absolutely nobody from PUP nor UDP want to initiate the talk about capital punishment.

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