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Mar 29, 2023

Senate Debates Inflation, the Economy and Minimum Wage in the Budget

Sheena Pitts

The 2023-2024 National Budget was debated in the Senate today.  The fiery exchange across the aisle, that is par for the course in the upper house, was noticeably subdued. In fact, while the opposition and other senators pointed out the areas of the budget that concerned them, the presentations were respectful. Before the actual debate began, the Senate approved the appointment of career public officer Maria Arthurs, who was attached to the Ministry of Finance, as Contractor General for the next three years, effective June first, 2023. And when the debate got underway, U.D.P Senator, Sheena Pitts opened up on the economy, and inflation. 


Sheena Pitts, U.D.P. Senator

“The facts are the facts, and the facts don’t lie. And I have to agree, you know, because the facts are the facts. And the facts don’t lie. But you know where I have a divergence? There is a manipulation of the creation of the facts. And there is a distorted reality from appreciating the facts. But let me say this: and I want to get it out of the way. I am hoping that the tenor of these debates remain sober and does not invite any court gesturing any further, or any gesticulating any further because this is serious business. And I will tell you why. When we rely on facts and we change the way how we create facts, and then we distort the way we interpret facts, that is very serious. The budget boasts that the economy expanded twelve point four percent – more than ten times the average growth. Is that a fact? I can accept that. I have no difficulty with that. The budget also states that ninety-five percent of those who seek employment are working, and that those who are working have benefited from the increase in minimum wage, and that that is largely attributable to the effort of the government. Now the fact is the minimum wage has increased. I recall when I was here that, on that issue, I said, and it is more poignant now that even with that five-dollar increase, how far has it taken or is taking the average Belizean in the grocery store? The government presents facts that sixty-eight thousand fewer Belizeans are poor. Remember Madam President, I said there are facts created through some formula and treated as facts and accepted, and there are some facts where, you know, the reality gets distorted.”

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