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Sep 19, 2005

State of the Nation: Belize took a licking but still ticking

Story PictureIf you came to Belmopan this morning expecting to hear about the Social Security scandal, a bankrupt D.F.C., skyrocketing government debt, and a credit rating that even a pawn shop might consider risky… you came to the wrong meeting of the House. Today’s session, held on the steps of the Administration Building, was confined to one purpose: the Prime Minister’s State of the Nation Address. And while the body of the annual speech dealt with the usual upbeat assessment of Belize’s economic and social progress, the opening paragraphs made clear that the last twelve months were not easy ones for the government of Said Musa.

Prime Minister Said Musa
“The strength of Belize as a democratic nation and a people has been tried and tested. There were strikes and demonstrations. Saboteurs shut down telecommunications, cutting off the country from the rest of the world. Electricity infrastructure was deliberately damaged. Nights were made dark and days passed in fear and uncertainty.

Many wild and dire predictions about what would happen in Belize were made. But contrary to the negative voices of doom and gloom, the economy did not collapse; the government will not be forced out of office; and the will of the majority who elected the People’s United Party to govern has prevailed.

Belize is on the rebound. We are putting our national house in order. And the nation we proudly call Belize will endure, will revive, and will prosper. This rebounding is not an accident. It is occurring because the Belizean people, despite an irresponsible call for sustained civil disobedience, chose the rule of law and democracy over anarchy and raw emotionalism. It is occurring because our government maintained calm and focus, continued to work with the social partners, and made substantial reforms in the management of public finances and in the handling of the people’s business.”

Among the highlights that followed were previously released statistics pointing to a projected three point six percent budget deficit for the current financial year and an economy that, for the first six months of the year, grew by an annual rate of four point four percent. Against this unexpectedly robust growth was a nearly thirty percent jump in the trade deficit, over a quarter of which was attributed to the rapid rise of prices for imported petroleum products.

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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