PM Announces New Stimulus, Sale of BTL Shares - And New Measures to Improve Governance Print E-mail
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Thursday, 23 September 2010 00:00
Though tempered by the continuing challenges of a struggling global economy and critical domestic issues such as crime, Prime Minister Dean Barrow’s Independence Day address contained much good news on the social and economic front, as well as new and welcoming measures to improve the management of the nation’s affairs.

The Prime Minister cited the encouraging news of a 2.4 percent growth of the economy as independently confirmed by the statistical Institute. Tourism, in particular, is up, with hotel revenues having increased by 8.39 percent. Banana and Citrus are doing well; construction, energy generation and petroleum are all robust; aquaculture has rebounded; and non-traditional exports are growing remarkably. Almost 22 Million Pounds of Red Kidney Beans and Black Eyed Peas have been exported to Caricom in the last six months; Papaya earned 13.6 Million in July; 50 Million pounds of Yellow Corn is now being exported annually to Guatemala, 20 Million pounds of corn meal (a new export commodity) to Jamaica, and the first shipment of three thousand heads of cattle will soon be exported to Mexico.

The PM outlined a number of new projects and measures to further boost the economy, upgrade infrastructure and improve quality of life, among them a 25 Million dollar project to pave the roads to San Lazaro, San Estevan and Progresso; 40 Million from World Bank to be spread evenly among district towns and Belmopan City to upgrade municipal infrastructure; 50 Million to extend the Southern Highway to Jalacte; 22 Million from OPEC to complete the Poverty Alleviation Project in Belize City, and additional funds for the Urban Rejuvenation Project.

To further assist in job creation, the PM announced that government has allocated an initial sum of three million dollars for DFC to provide loans at a low interest rate of 8% to small business and is negotiating with IDB for further funding. The government is also committing two million of its own funds to move the Restore Belize Program forward until special funding can be identified.

On the governance side, the Prime Minister announced that the new Finance and Audit Act has already been drafted and will be introduced in the National Assembly by November. He noted that the Recall of Elected Officials Bill is coming back to the House at its sitting on Friday of this week, when it is expected to be passed. At that sitting, the Prime Minister said, he will also be seeking Parliament’s support for a comprehensive set of Fiscal Transparency Regulations.

Finally, the Prime Minister reiterated his government’s commitment to protect the national interest, as has been demonstrated through the nationalization of Belize Telemedia, and he announced that the prospectus is now ready for the sale of shares to the Belizean public.

In closing, PM Barrow stated, “We are sure and steadfast in our citizenship of this nation; in our commitment to this country; in our certainty that we will succeed here in this place so many have dubbed a paradise on earth.”