Budget Debate: Leader of the Opposition says the budget is a noodles budget
Today parliamentarians from constituencies countrywide gathered to debate the 2014 – 2015 Budget, presented by Prime Minister Dean Barrow two weeks ago. It’s titled Bettering People, Building Belize – A Budget for All. PM Barrow has referred to it as a good news budget, perhaps the best yet. As has become tradition, every member on the government side hails the budget as the greatest financial masterpiece of all time, and all members on the Opposition side condemn it as the most worthless financial mockery. The debate has been scheduled for two days; this morning, the Leader of the Opposition, Francis Fonseca, delved into the budget calling it “a noodles budget.” Mike Rudon was in Belmopan for the first round of verbal sparring. Here’s that story.
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Mike Rudon, Reporting
This morning all members arrived at the House of Representatives with their game faces on…all except member for Cayo North-east Elvin Penner, who was nowhere to be seen. But in his absence, the band played on, led first by member for Freetown and P.U.P. leader Francis Fonseca.
Francis Fonseca, Freetown Area Rep.
“Mr. Speaker in 2013, the U.D.P. gave us zero point seven percent economic growth; the worst economic performance in some twenty years. A 2013 in which production of all of Belize’s major crops fell significantly; a 2013 in which petroleum fell by twenty-three percent; a 2013 in which the prices of food, healthcare and transportation all increased; a 2013 in which massive foreclosure of homes and businesses continued; a 2013 in which foreign direct investment fell to its lowest levels in the last fifteen years; a 2013 in which more and more Belizeans fell into poverty and lost hope in the future. That is the Belizean U.D.P. reality.”
That was the Opposition’s take on 2013…and they say 2014 isn’t looking much brighter. In fact, they say that far from bettering and building, the new budget celebrates poverty and dependence.
“The budget for fiscal year 2014-2015 is what many describe as a noodles budget, noodles budget. More and more Belizean families forced on to a steady diet of ramens, a steady diet of noodles and you can pick your flavor. You know on the streets Mister Speaker, every flavor got wa minister name; on the street every man got a name. Chicken dah after the honorable member for Port Loyola…chicken dah “Boots.” Beef dah di honorable member for Cayo Central. And of course Miser Speaker, the big boss is given the privilege of having the name for shrimp; shrimp flavored noodles.”
But as we told you, this is the tale of two parties, and there are two sides to this political story.
John Saldivar, Belmopan Area Rep.
“This indeed Mister Speaker is a wonderful time to be an area representative, a great government to be a part of and a great prime minister to be led by. After spending the first term, 2008 to 2012, cleaning up the mess of the P.U.P. and righting the ship of state, spending the first year of this second term fixing the superbond, out prime minister has in the last twelve months unleashed some massive spending that in every corner of this country there are real and visible signs of a country on the move. I don’t know Mister Speaker which country the member of Freetown is living in, but development is moving forward.”
Saldivar is Minister of National Security, and his boast is a crime rate that has significantly reduced.
“Last year Mr. Speaker, my ministry made some remarkable successes in crime fighting. 2013 saw a marked reduction in most major crimes. We finally saw the homicide count, the murder count fall to below one hundred. this singular achievement of bringing the murder count below a hundred, ninety-nine to be exact, took Belize out of the top ten percent of worse homicide rates per capita.”
With the first two speakers, tradition was maintained, and would hold through day one of the debate. Mike Rudon for News Five.