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Jan 11, 2021

PM Briceño and the Need for Supplementary Appropriations

The Supplementary Appropriations Bill will tide the Briceño administration over until the start of the next financial year on April first after it goes before the upper house on Wednesday in a special sitting of the senate. The three-month period is an entire quarter that government would need to be financed. The dire strait it finds itself in is in part the result of the COVID-19 pandemic. News Fives Isani Cayetano reports.

 

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The introduction and pending passage of the Supplementary Appropriations Bill will allow the Briceño administration to draw down on additional public funds to keep government afloat until the March thirty-first, the end of the 2020 financial calendar.  As the prime minister has made abundantly clear, the economy remains in a precarious state and righting the ship, as it navigates turbulent fiscal waters, requires a further injection of monies.

 

John Briceño

Prime Minister John Briceno

“The Belizean people have heard me repeatedly pronounce, since our election two months ago, that the public finances bequeathed us by the U.D.P. is nothing short of a national disaster.  This declaration that our predecessors skippered the ship of state upon the jagged rocks of insolvency is neither political posturing nor exaggeration.  Virtual bankruptcy, no less, is what thirteen years and three U.D.P. terms have spawned.  The last administration left the government on course to borrow.  Remember when he boasted, member for Cayo South, that he wahn borrow til ih cyant borrow noh moh.  By our estimate we’re five hundred and ten million dollars this year.  That’s what the Barrow administration borrowed in the last year, five hundred and ten million dollars.”

 

Most of those funds were set aside for expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the crippling effect of constant borrowing has indeed left the economy teetering on the brink of ruin.

 

Prime Minister John Briceno

“This amount is almost three hundred million dollars more than the amount of borrowing listed in the budget that was authorized by the last parliament for fiscal year 2020/21.  That is why I have to say all of this thing, Mr. Leader of the Opposition.  Five hundred and ten million dollars of loans, half of a billion dollars of borrowing in a single financial year, one year.”

 

To put that into perspective is to essentially contextualize the need for additional monies, via the General Revenue Supplementary Appropriation Bill, to hold government over until it is able to present a new budget for the upcoming financial year.  Prime Minister Briceño breaks it down into layman’s terms.

 

Prime Minister John Briceno

“The five hundred and ten million is more than half of what government will collect in total revenues and grants for this year.  Dehn wahn borrow more than half of what dehn seh dehn mi wahn collect.  In other words, this is the equivalent of a Belizean family earning five hundred dollars a week… but still have to borrow two hundred and fifty dollars on Friday to make ends meet.  How can that level of borrowing be repaid?”

 

Of equal concern is how the additional expenditure will be covered since it also only adds to the growing debt that the country is incurring. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.


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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