Our Leader is not a Pirate…He is the Father of Economic Independence Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 12 April 2017 00:00

The month of March was quite a dizzying month, as we saw the Right Honorable Prime Minister Dean Barrow renegotiate the scandalous PUP Superbond to more reasonable terms as well as present and pass a fair, balanced and upbeat national budget that allows the economy to rebound and flourish while still protecting the citizens who are financially most at risk.  By so doing he has practically silenced the self-proclaimed pundits, the naysayers and the modern-day Cassandras who for months had been pathologically predicting only gloom, doom and hard times.

All the UDP representatives and senators made quite constructive interventions in support of both the budget and the Prime Minister’s presentation.  However, in particular, both Senator Aldo Salazar and Attorney General Senator Michael Peyrefitte, when contrasting the bogus, dubious and invisible projects in the PUP Superbond compared to the sound and tangible investments of Petrocaribe, summed it up best by noting that “our leader is not a pirate!”

On the other hand the PUP representatives were all typically negative with the unusual exception of the Hon. Julius Espat who allegedly may have sipped some sauce in the back room before his presentation.  Whether it was truth serum or something else that he had was not immediately clear.  Nevertheless, it seems that his suspension from the House, together with his threatened expulsion from the PUP, could have very well matured him somewhat.

The Leader of the PUP, Hon. John Briceno, chose to be full of statistics in his presentation, trying to compare the PUP’s failed 10 years to the current UDP’s sterling tenure.  Briceno claimed that the UDP only managed an average of 2.1% GDP growth while the PUP racked up an average growth rate of 5.73%.  He failed to realize though that the economic growth since 2008 under the UDP is real, solid, foundational growth as opposed to the fake “growth economics” or “Ralphonomics” under the PUP that was fueled by expensive commercial rate loans and bogus “investments” like the phantom soybean projects and countless others.

One important statistic that Briceno failed to mention was that when the UDP under the Right Honourable Sir Manuel Esquivel as Prime Minister and the Right Honourable Dean Barrow as Deputy Prime Minister left office in 1998, the poverty rate stood at 32%. However, we all know that after a decade of PUP “growth economics” from 1998 to 2008 and 2 billion dollars borrowed (including the PUP Superbond) and probably close to 8 or 9 billion dollars spent in total over their 10 budgets while in power, the poverty rate had skyrocketed from this 32% to the current 40.3% that the government’s critics consistently like to wave about and try to pin on the current administration.

Just to give one more example of his negativity, the Hon. Briceno then touched on the topic of the National Health Insurance and actually had the face of brass to claim that under the PUP, NHI would have been UNIVERSAL!!!  Was that a Freudian slip or did he actually mean universally corrupt?  We can all remember how during the PUP’s 10 years, NHI became a PUP hustle and feeding frenzy, ending in the Universal guarantee debacle and the diversion of millions of Venezuelan housing grant funds in which Belizeans ended up paying for the Universal Hospital but the average Belizean still cannot afford to get treated at that facility.  As a footnote, that also was the fiasco when the then Attorney General, Francis Fonseca, still does not know whether the Universal guarantee that he endorsed was in Belize or US dollars. Perhaps the NHI does not cover everyone so far under this administration but at least now it tries to reach out to the neediest as opposed to under the PUP when it reached out to and assisted the greediest instead!  Such was NHI under the PUP.

Not all the positive things on the budget and the superbond negotiation came from the legislature as Belizeans at large were pleased and pleasantly surprised by the outcome of both.  At the very press conference when the Prime Minister announced the breakthrough on the superbond, the Attorney General, Hon. Michael Peyrefitte, said that the PM was being very humble about the great achievement of this renegotiation.  Others, such as Orson Elrington, one of the co-hosts of the Lik Road talk show concurred with this statement and referred to Prime Minister Barrow as the “Father of Economic Independence”. 

Just to put that statement into context, the Rt. Hon. George Price has been traditionally referred to as the “Father of Independence”, while the Hon. Phillip Goldson who kept democracy alive, sometimes as the only opposition member in the House, is increasingly referred to as the “Father of Democracy”, a term likely first coined by the Rt. Hon. Manuel Esquivel. Mr. Esquivel himself, should be considered as the “Father of Economic Development” because during his first term, Belize saw record economic growth with numbers not seen before and not seen since except, as falsely claimed by Briceno, during the years of fake PUP growth.  Certainly, the events of the past month cements our Prime Minister Dean Barrow as the “Father of Economic Independence”. 

It is increasingly clear that the UDP as a party, needs to do better to educate the younger voters, especially those just turning 18 and those in their twenties since many of them do not remember or are not aware of the PUP disaster of 10 – 20 years ago.  Perhaps it could start with a documentary on the PUP Superbond to counter the “alternative facts” that are being spun.  Whatever means is used though, we must constantly remind them that our leader is not a pirate – he is the father of economic independence!