Budget Wrap Up – a revisit of the fireworks in the House
The annual budget debate 2014, held on Monday and Tuesday, has been widely described as anticlimactic, primarily because majority of the arguments in the Honorable House revolved around the many personalities that comprise lower parliament. From literary references to stolen speeches and criticisms of prime ministers past, little was left unsaid, save for an actual discussion on the upcoming national expenditure. Tonight, we look back on some of the highlights of the verbal exchanges during the two-day sitting, including the quotable and the hilarious.
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Francis Fonseca, Freetown Area Rep. [File: March 24th, 2014]
“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.”
Prime Minister Dean Barrow
“I will not dwell on the fact that the Leader of the Opposition’s intervention was, in my view, well nigh useless in terms of any serious analysis of the budget. Instead, I will say rather that he has strong, not to say, thundering voice and he declaimed very well. Also, since it now turned out that namedropping is a strong suit of his, I wish to record my own, and no doubt, the house’s gratitude that learning that he knows the economist Send. He was at pains to point out that he is a familiar of the great economist Send. We’re similarly grateful that whatever else, his intervention had the merit of brevity, after all Mr. Speaker there is only so much of his remarkable decibel level that normal eardrums can take. Then Mr. Speaker, his reference to Ramen noodles and anthropomorphically naming them after ministers was quite enlivening if not exactly instructive but what on earth the brand of watch that I wear, I assume he was referring to me, what on earth the brand of watch that I wear has to do with the state of the nation?”
Said Musa, Fort George Area Rep. [File: March 24th, 2014]
“There is no more imagining the possibilities, you know. Belizeans have long since given up on imagining U.D.P. possibilities. The millions coming from Russia have vanished into thin air just like that lone Malaysian plane. Millions from Russia we were told in the 2012 budget; not one cent, it has all vanished. The prime minister’s grandiose dream to build an oil refinery; that was the big prize in front of the 2012 elections…oil refinery; it is not mentioned anymore. Another failed promise. In fact, this prime minister promised to fight corruption, even the whiff of corruption; he would cut it down with this Barrow machete. But now that the whiff of corruption has become a stench, ih can’t find the machete, yo know.”
“You know, it struck me that he is suffering from a late-life identity crisis. He seems not quite sure what he wants to be, campaigner of old, elder statesman or raconteur, teller of what, in his case, would have to be tall tales. But Mr. Speaker that is what happens when you stay too long. I know he had a birthday this month, he must be what, seventy now. Would he had honored his oath, publicly declared on national television to retire after he was so ingloriously thrashed in 2008. But oh, you of the perjured tongue, is there any promise that you have ever kept anytime in your life? So now it has come to this, playing the antic in the house, giving us old time stories about Don Emilio and the governor’s wife, dat da weh dis man come to, Don Emilio and the governor’s wife. Then resorting to nursery rhymes in his dotage, a frame of reference that truly bears out the old adage, once a man twice a child.”