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Jan 17, 2003

Opposition says “show me the money”

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One noteworthy occurrence at the National Assembly this morning was the absence of Leader of the Opposition Dean Barrow. According to the honourable member from Mesopotamia, the U.D.P. Chief was out campaigning. But Barrow or no Barrow, Michael Finnegan was not shy about offering his opinion of the Prime Minister’s budget.

Michael Finnegan, Area Rep., Mesopotamia

“We expected what was delivered this morning, that all was fine and dandy in the land of Belize. And we were expecting exactly what the Prime Minister Said in terms of everything is well and rosy in Belize.”

Janelle Chanona

“So how do you plan to counter it since you had anticipated it?”

Michael Finnegan

“Well next week, beginning this evening, we will examine the figures and the numbers, which to my mind, are unrealistic and next week we will reply adequately to the Prime Minister’s presentation.”

Janelle Chanona

“Are you saying the books were cooked?”

Michael Finnegan

“We are living in this country. This is a very small country, and what the Prime Minister presented in there this morning obviously does not reflect what is going on out here in this jewel of ours.”

Ralph Fonseca, Minister of Budget Management

“The Opposition can say nothing else of course, they’re desperate. They are seeing that we are performing exactly as we said that we would. The proof of the figures is in the performance this year. If you look at the records, if you look at the estimates, you will see where in fact we have performed better than we expected with revenue. We’ve been able to control expenditure; it went slightly over what we budgeted, but very, very small, so that we’re still able to come up with a surplus of thirty-five million dollars. And the proof of it is all around, as the Prime Minister explained, we’ve got a brand new computer system that fully automating the control of funds now, where people cannot violate the budget. We’ve got a fully controlled utilities system now, and the same thing with fuel and the maintenance of vehicles et cetera. We’re rationalising the vehicle fleet, you heard the Prime Minister talk about a hundred new vehicles for police, then we’re selling off the old ones. All of that is bringing savings, it’s rationalising the entire budget system, or the entire budget process to a point where it can be output oriented.”

Other aspects of the budget include plans to invest a hundred million dollars in education, and the awarding of social security benefits to women sixty-five years and older, whether or not they have contributed to the system.

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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