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Mar 6, 2009

Opposition leader and deputy give analysis

Story PictureThe Opposition will get a chance to put Barrow’s offering under the microscope when they debate the budget on March nineteenth. But today we asked Party Leader John Briceño and Deputy Leader Mark Espat for their initial impressions.

Mark Espat, Deputy Leader, P.U.P.
“I think there are two sides to the coin, so to speak. There is the issue of the old budget and there is the issue of the new budget. First to the performance of the 08-09 budget, as we had predicted there would have been a significant deficit if they didn’t slow down investments in capital two and three. So while they will show a thirty-six million dollar overall surplus, the reason for that is simply because they did not implement the projects the promised they would last July when that budget was presented. The new budget, I think is more realistic. The government is projecting a fifty-two million deficit and so we will have a shortfall. But I think more ominously is the thirty million, thirty-two million in additional taxes that will come from fuel and so Belizeans will see the price at the pump go up on April first.”

John Briceño, Party Leader, P.U.P.
“He had to do some juggling to be able to show a surplus in the budget and it certainly did not work out the way he promised when he made his budget presentation in July. So certainly he will have to continue his juggling act. We all know, especially those in the private sector, can tell you we are going to be going through a difficult time; international and certainly locally whereby tourism continues to decline, our cultural outputs continue to decline, our prices that we get continue to decline. It’s going o be very difficult and the government will have to be very careful on how it is going to be targeting spending especially in the agricultural sector. For instance, in the sugar industry, where we continue to need a lot of help and where you have over six thousand cane farmers in the industry. We hope that it can get better at the end of the day, all of us live here and we want it to get better, but it is going to be a tough time.”

Mark Espat
“The question on the mind of Belizeans right now is what is in this budget for them, what is in it for our public officers, what is in it for our farmers, what is in it for our small businesses, what is in it for our single mothers and those were the questions that there were no answers to. We know there’s thirty million dollars more in petroleum taxes but we did not get a very clear picture of how this budget will benefit the Belizean people.”

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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