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Mar 22, 2013

Houdini Budget? Debate changes gear

After six o’clock this evening, the budget debate concluded in the House of Representatives. The budget for the new financial year starting April first, calls for nine hundred and thirty-four million dollars in spending and eight hundred and seventy one point seven million dollars in revenue and grants; a deficit of sixty-two million point two dollars.  Sparks flew across the floor today as House members delved into the estimates. News Five’s Jose Sanchez reports.

 

Jose Sanchez, Reporting

Day two of the debate on the General Revenue Appropriation bill for the fiscal year continued in the House. The representatives scrutinized the estimates presented by the Prime Minister and made a great deal about his reference to it as a Houdini budget.

 

Julius Espat

Julius Espat

“The budget presentation was once again embellished with extravagant exaggerations such as stellar performance, phenomenal, deserving of laurels and garlands, remarkably outstanding and worse of all mister speaker, Houdini-like performance. Well mister speaker and the people of Belize, the reality is that Mister Harry Houdini was a great American performer, he in reality was a trickster. His most famous performances was that of an escaped artist. He mister speaker was in fact an illusionist. Mister Speaker, the PM has hit the nail on the head when he compares his budget performance and this budget with the likes of Mister Harry Houdini. And his budget is but a mere illusion. How is it possible that the stats quoted in the Prime Minister’s budget presentation indicate that our economy is growing when our fathers cannot get a job; when our highly educated youths coming out of our universities cannot find meaningful employment; when our poor mothers do not have the means to prepare a nutritious meal for their children; when our Belizean people cannot afford to cloth or send our loving children to school. How is it possible that our economy is growing when unemployment is at an all time high—statistics showing us that it is even worst in the district that I come from, the Cayo District? How can we even think of growing this economy when normal Belizeans do not have access to land? How do we grow this economy if there is absolutely no accountability in how this government spends the people’s money?”

 

Santiago Castillo

Santiago Castillo, Minister of State

“He spoke of Harry Houdini. Harry Houdini was able to escape out of anything. In fact, his last trick killed him. I think what the prime minister meant when he spoke of harry Houdini, is that we the U.D.P. government under his stewardship were able to get out of the bangles that the P.U.P. government left us under. In fact, their last trick, the Superbond, would have been the one that killed Belize had this U.D.P. government not gotten in and escaped itself. The P.U.P. are the last ones to talk about accountability; that would be like if the honorable Requeña would call me short. He speaks of virtues. P.U.P., virtues; please man.”

 

Julius Espat

“His government will create a company called Belize Investments Limited, to do their projects through. This company in reality will directly compete with the private sector and worse than that, it will be a vehicle with which the government will utilize to dodge the legal system in place that requires checks and balances and to facilitate even more misuse of the public funds. We are losing our homes and businesses at alarming rates. The newspapers are flooded with foreclosure. Here are examples of just the publications of this month. Mister Speaker I took clippings from the month of March to show you foreclosure. And it is alarming; every single page and I will show you Orange Walk foreclosures, Belize City foreclosures, San Ignacio foreclosures, Dangriga foreclosures, San Pedro foreclosures; and noh even talk about Dangriga and Toledo because it goes on and on. This is ridiculous.”

 

Patrick Faber

Jose Mai, Orange Walk South Area Representative

“Mr. Speaker, the Belizean people want to know, what is the government’s strategy to lower the more than forty percent poverty rate in the country. What is the plan to reduce the unemployment rate? Yes this is what the university graduates, the sixth form graduates want to hear. What about the stimulus package? We have heard so much time the stimulus package being mentioned. What are the economic sector objectives and target indicators? They should be specific; they should be measurable.”

 

Patrick Faber, Collet Area Representative

“Stann Creek Ecumenical, where he teachers, and he should know better, but I will deal with that in a minute because he said a lot of, a bunch of nonsense just now. Toledo Community College, Wesley College…”

 

Michael Peyrefitte, Speaker of the House

“One second member to address the concern. He opened a door, leader of the opposition; he is just trying to explain it. When the member for Stann Creek West listed off his twenty-three villages, there was no issue. I’m sure…”

 

Michael Peyrefitte

Francis Fonseca, Leader of the Opposition

“I appreciate the minister has the opportunity to respond to a specific point he said the member made which he wishes to clarify. But this does not open for him to speak again about the education budget. He has had that opportunity Mister Speaker. Why did he not list those schools when he was making his presentation? Except for Georgetown, every single school was built by the People United Party.”

 

Patrick Faber

“Now you are grandstanding because that wasn’t in the discussion.”

 

Michael Peyrefitte

“The Leader of the Opposition, if any of those were not built, I have to give them an opportunity to respond to that. You are opening up a door; the member from Dangriga did make certain statements.”

 

Patrick Faber

“Mister Speaker, yesterday what I did was I listed the schools that were not benefiting. And that was what the member from Belize Rural Central and the member from Dangriga jumped on. So they misrepresented what I said, so I am merely clarifying. Mister Speaker, the member for Dangriga clearly just now misrepresented what I said again. He does not understand the formula under which we now finance secondary education.”

 

The debate on the 2013-2014 budget, or lack of it, continued past six pm. Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

 

The Prime Minister closed the debate by rebutting the opposition concerns. The estimates now go before the Senate next week Wednesday.

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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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3 Responses for “Houdini Budget? Debate changes gear”

  1. beachman says:

    Now we know where PM ‘found’ the funds for BIL.

  2. Seletar says:

    The debate is hard to listen to, because for most of it, it is petty men making petty remarks.

    Where’s the beef?

    Why is there a deficit? They must BALANCE THE BUDGET, never spend more than GOB receives in taxes, because an unbalanced budget just increases the mountain of debt we have already been unable to pay.

    Does anyone but me notice that the proposed deficit is $62-million, almost exactly the amount that was stolen from somewhere to create the new theft vehicle, BIL?

  3. Joe says:

    I noticed Twitter, there is an account Belize C.A@belize_1981
    wanting people to tweet the wrong doing of Ministers in Government
    the thing is that the media in Belize is so censored, on twitter GOB can not put its hands on, so tweet and be heard
    if you all fell that GOB wants to censor your internet, download TOR at https://www.torproject.org/
    it will protect you from being traced

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