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Jan 22, 2008

P.U.P. launches manifesto 2008

Story PictureThere may be voters who will sit down and actually read both major party manifestos, weigh the relative merits of the two documents, ascertain their commitment to implement the proposals … and then cast their ballots accordingly. But if such voters exist, we’ve yet to find them. These days political manifestos are more about the form than the substance. Last week the U.D.P. introduced theirs at a massive nighttime rally. This morning it was the P.U.P.’s turn. Janelle Chanona reports.

Janelle Chanona, Reporting
The Bliss Centre for Performing Arts was packed with People’s United Party supporters as the incumbent administration officially presented its plan for the next political term.

Prime Minister Said Musa
“I come here today as your humble servant to once again ask for your support for all our team thirty-one, all thirty-one candidates of the People’s United Party. We have faced many challenges, some mistakes were made. We all make mistakes but make no mistake, I will continue to fight for you.

In “Blueprint” the P.U.P. makes one hundred and seventy-one policy promises which include proposals to abolish income tax on annual salaries less than fifty thousand dollars, create twenty thousand new jobs, give bigger pay checks to teachers, nurses and law enforcement officers, spend fifty-million dollars in infrastructural upgrades in the municipalities and double the size of the police force. And of course, distribute thirty-five thousand laptops to primary and high school students.

Francis Fonseca, People’s United Party Chairman
“Our P.U.P. blueprint embraces change, offers change, demands change. It offers the Belizean people the opportunity for real meaningful change grounded in the hard work and experience of a tried and tested team. Our party and government have learnt many lessons, many important lessons that will make us a better, more effective, more accountable government during the period 2008-2013. This is our solemn commitment to the people of Belize.”

Prime Minister Said Musa
“That is what it is all about; jobs, jobs, jobs for our people. Fighting inflation and yes, addressing the cost of living, no matter what. Belize today is far better positioned to face global challenges. We are living in a good country and it is now up to us, it is now up to us to take another great leap forward with the People’s United Party. Candidate for candidate, man to man, woman to man, P.U.P. all the way!”

Janelle Chanona
“The People’s United Party made history in 2003 as the first party to serve consecutive terms but is there a three-peat in the future?”

Prime Minister Said Musa
“Yes it is believed that it is always difficult to win a third term but I sense that with the momentum swinging very heavily in our favour that it is very possible, distinctly possible. I am very hopeful.”

But while Said Musa and his party presented a unified show of strength today, the decade of P.U.P. rule has not been without stress.

Janelle Chanona
“In 2003’s victory speech you promised to wipe out even the hint of corruption are you satisfied that you’ve done that [in the eyes] of the electorate?”

Prime Minister Said Musa
“I believe we’ve made a good start in terms of fighting corruption. Corruption is an issue that affects every country in the world. It requires strengthening the system, it requires putting in place strong accountable bodies and we’ve been doing that. Of course on the financial side, we were the ones who carried out significant reforms to the Finance and Audit Act, again to create greater accountability to the National Assembly and to the people but no it’s a continuing process and I believe with the elected Senate we are taking it another step forward.”

Janelle Chanona
“Regarding the elected senate, some people would say it’s the people that make up the system and not necessarily the system. Are you convinced that the elected Senate is the way to go to keep a check on the Executive, to give the power back to the people?”

Prime Minister Said Musa
“I am totally convinced, having analysed this matter and having worked the system over many years when I was a Senator, when I was a Representative, as a Minister and as Prime Minister. Obviously you need a good system but also you need good people to carry out that system. But before you can even talk about bringing about reform, you have to put in place the right structures and I believe this Senate, once we clothe it with proper oversight powers will advance us significantly in deepening our democracy because the people will have the say in terms of who they want as the Senators. And also it will give legitimacy to the Senators that they will have their own independence, if you like, to ensure that they act in the best interest of Belize.”

Janelle Chanona
“There is a perception that you are always the man in the middle of the controversy, in the middle of the scandal. What would you like to say to the electorate who are saying there are so many questions about Mr. Fonseca. What would you like to remind electors?”

Ralph Fonseca, P.U.P. Candidate, Belize Rural Central
“Well first of all, I don’t have any problems in Belize Rural Central with any perception problem. The perception problem has been built up mostly by you in the media, not by our people who actually vote. They have been given the wrong idea about what we’ve been doing. Yes, I’m in the middle of lots controversy because I’m doing lots of things and I will always be doing lots of things to change to Belize, that’s why I’m involved. I’m only involved in Government to be involved in the big issues of the day to try to help the people of Belize and if that means that people are going to be constantly attacking me, then too bad. At the end of the day I have a lot of confidence in the intelligence in the Belizean people. They know for instance when they talk about D.F.C. or Social Security or the debt, or U.H.S., they have all been solved. Not one penny has been missing anywhere. Nobody has been investigated more than myself, my integrity commission report is right up to date, certified to the end of 2006. Dean Barrow hasn’t got one certified in his entire political history.”

Today’s manifesto launch was complimented by an interpretative dance by the “Blue Machine”, a hip hop face off and a political endorsement by well known singer Leila Vernon. With both party manifestos launched and the candidates officially nominated, all that’s left is a final sprint to February seventh. Reporting for News Five, I am Janelle Chanona.

The P.U.P. manifesto is also available in Spanish from the party secretariat in Belize City or from the candidates.

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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