Belize - Belize News - Channel5Belize.com - Great Belize Productions - Belize Breaking News
Home » Economy, Featured, People & Places, Politics » Senate Approves Barrow’s 2019/2020 Budget
Mar 28, 2019

Senate Approves Barrow’s 2019/2020 Budget

Following its passage in the House of Representatives, the budget for 2019/2020 went to the Senate floor today. Debate in the upper house started with a robust statement from private sector senator, Mark Lizarraga. The senator noted that the figures do not add up and there was no accountability of how the people’s money was being spent. Senator Eamon Courtenay highlighted the fact that government spending was heavy on infrastructure but short on people oriented programmes. News Five’s Hipolito Novelo looks at this morning’s proceedings. 

 

Hipolito Novelo, Reporting

The Upper House today debated the government’s one point two five billion dollar budget ahead of the start of the new fiscal year. Senators weighed in on the ‘Strong and Steady Economic Growth’ with Private Sector Senator Mark Lizarraga questioning the figures contained in the ‘Moving Ahead’ budget.

 

Mark Lizarraga

Mark Lizarraga, Senator for Private Sector

“There are loads and loads of questions as it relates to the credibility of the numbers and after this today we don’t get really any report on oversight. So many of the things we highlight are because we continue to highlight them and see very little improvements. I must say that there are a lot of ministries that have improved and at least make an effort put in numbers and fill in the blanks. In many instances, we still see the copy and paste approach and in many other instances, we see numbers that totally don’t make sense. And even some miraculous number where people claim to do so much and we don’t know where the money is coming from. This year I am going to call out the C.E.O.s and the accounting officers because we have twelve C.E.O.s responsible and fourteen accounting officers for the quality assurance of the contents of this book. They are the ones responsible, I believe. And much needs to be desired still. I have been here now; I think this is my eight or seven budget with very little improvement. Shame on you! Shame on you for not telling us how, in many instances, you spend and what it is that you intend to achieve. In many instances they report that they have done so much and you can’t, miraculous things happen. Actually it is our money you know. It like somebody going into your pocket and take out money and say, here, ten million, twenty million. We are paying for it. These people are putting their hands in our pocket every single day. Yet they can’t tell us what they do and when they do tell us, it is not true.”

 

Across the aisle, P.U.P. senators led by Eamon Courtenay expressed dissatisfaction, saying that the budget lacks the proper mix in investment, infrastructure and people. He also found it lacking accurate figures to assess G.O.B.’s performance for the 2018 fiscal year, and proper figures to assess the projected revenue and expenditure for the upcoming fiscal year.  While the new fiscal budget seeks to expand ‘opportunities for business and personal advance’; Senator Courtenay says that PM Dean Barrow’s twelfth budget presentation was less than inspiring.

 

Eamon Courtenay

Eamon Courtenay, Lead P.U.P. Senator

“In reading the Prime Minister’s budget speech and having passed through a lot the self-praise which as I understand it is no recommendation and all the flowery rhetoric and one gets to the substance of the budget, one of course once again finds an insipid, uninspiring, boring, I don’t even want to call it a speech- a presentation which I understand from what I was told was presented to the honorable House of Representatives with no fire, no commitment, no vim, and no vigor and one can understand. Because it does not paint a picture of what it is that the Government of Belize is going to do for the people of Belize generally for the upcoming fiscal year. It seems to me that once again the focus of the budget is on infrastructure, building road and roundabouts. The long and short of it Mr. President is my assessments on this side, our assessment is that the social fabric and social needs of the people of Belize are not primary objects and the primary issue that is being addressed in this budget.”

 

Joining in the criticism was social partner senator for the unions Elena Smith who not only questioned the government’s priorities as it relates to G.O.B.s committed to its ‘rededication to basic social protection’ but also described the budget as a “disingenuous book.”

 

Elena Smith

Elena Smith, Senator for the Unions

“We note Mr. President, for example, the food pantry programme and when we look at that programme in Belize City we see that some over three million dollars being allocated. When we look at the Cayo, Stann Creek and Toledo districts we see that nothing allocated there. If one of our priorities is poverty alleviation, we have the southern districts Mr. President which we often hear are the tourist districts, districts with persons who are most in need. We do not feel that there is enough to alleviate poverty in this nation and that is of key imp0oprtant to us. We want to make sure Mr. President that when we speak of poverty alleviation that all mechanism are put in place and shared equally as best as possible across this nation, that we don’t want that the people who need the help the most are the people who get the least.”

 

On the government’s side, the first to respond to the senators’ concerns was Senator Macario Coy.

 

Macario Coy

Macario Coy, U.D.P. Senator

“I heard some previous speakers talk about infrastructure. ‘Why are we spending on infrastructure? It is not accountable for spending the money from the pocket, coming out from the pocket.” Yes, it is coming out from the pocket but at the end of the day, we are seeing results. We are seeing works taking place across this nation. Yes, I do believe that probably there are a number of things that need to be completed; there are quite a number of roads that we still have pending in the south that needs to be completed. We do see this government being one of the governments if you need t call us “infrastructure” that is okay. We will take the name. I think we have been doing our part in terms of any other government.”

 

Hipolito Novelo, News Five.

 

This afternoon, most of the government senators spoke in support of the budget and so did church senator, Ashley Rocke.  The revenue appropriation bill was passed at about five-thirty this evening.


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.

Advertise Here

Leave a Reply

CAPTCHA Image
*