Second term of progress Print E-mail
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Thursday, 29 August 2013 00:00

The United Democratic Party has always prided itself in being an honest government which, whenever elected, serves the people to offer true development to Belize. When the UDP was elected into office it painstakingly took time to fix the problems which were created by the PUP. But historically, Belizeans have not voted for consecutive governments, until 2003 that is, when the PUP won an overwhelming victory; giving them the opportunity to be the first government to hold office for two successive terms.  Because of what followed thereafter, some would believe that it may have been a good thing amidst so much bad, that Belizeans got to truly experience and understand what the PUP really represents and what they are capable of. It was an eye opener for Belizeans to see how corrupt this lot can really be. 

Soon after the PUP victory, the cracks of corruption began to be exposed and scandal after scandal began to shake the PUP administration. In the PUP era, moneys were poured into pointless ventures, houses were constructed for no one to live in and money was spent on cronies to establish companies in the telephone industry, transportation industry, healthcare sector and others. Needless to say these companies never took off and the money, hundreds of millions, simply vanished.

There were all manner of corrupt deals that were exposed and their weakness in managing the financial affairs of the country was patently obvious. Even from within, dissention began to mount (we can all recall the so called G-7). Then the onerous Superbond surfaced where the country realized that the PUP government had been borrowing from commercial institutions at commercial lending rates. These were lumped into the Superbond which became the bane of the country's existence. That broke the back of that corrupt two-term PUP administration and with that the opportunity for the UDP to once again prove itself.

The task was monumental but the will was present and Hon. Dean Barrow took the helm of the administration and quickly began to establish credibility into the office of the Prime Minister. It must be noted that by the time the UDP government took office, the finances of the country was in the gutter. There was no financial institution that would assist Belize. No one trusted the office of the Prime Minister since the person who previously occupied that office was not trustworthy.  Even so, Hon. Dean Barrow began the task to re-establish confidence in the office and in so doing once again attracted the assistance of international development agencies like the European Union, Inter American Development Bank, the World Bank and others who had long stopped helping Belize because of the spendthrift ways of the former administration (there is little if anything at all that can be shown by way of development during the PUP era).  And while this was being done, the UDP government had to cope with servicing a ballooning public debt which was compounded by the fact that secret agreements were signed which took away tax revenue from the country. Then the exposure was made of how finances which were to have been used for development were funneled to pay off private debts. In short, it appeared that the problems of the country were never-ending. Still the focus was always geared at improving the wellbeing of the masses. And the UDP did so despite the obstacles.

The tax income tax threshold was raised twice and Belizean workers were able to take home more of their earnings. The Food Pantry program was introduced; the School Subsidy program for first and second form students was introduced. Mortgages were written off for homeowners who could not pay the Ministry of Housing and the Social Security Board. Student Loans at DFC were also written off. Belize Telemedia Limited and Belize Electricity Limited were returned to the hands of the people and the list went on and on. But still there was a need to get the economy going once again and to reduce the weight of debt servicing, the Superbond had to be renegotiated. 

It was on that footing that the UDP went into the general elections and for a second time won enough seats in the national assembly to make up a consecutive UDP government. With a new mandate, the best case scenario presented itself for Belizeans and the promise of renegotiation of the Superbond got underway. After much back and forth with the bond-holders, the renegotiation was successful and the debt burden was lightened.

The country is now entering an era of economic vigor, development through infrastructural programs are now in full effect, following up from the first term of the UDP government. In all municipalities there are infrastructure projects being led by central government. In Belize City, a visionary mayor, Darrell Bradley has been able to give the old capital a much needed facelift. Under the Social Investment Fund, Municipal Development Projects are being carried out in multiple municipalities. There are also tourism-related projects being implemented across the country under the Sustainable Tourism Development Project. New multi-million dollar investments are now taking shape. The investment in BSI by ASR is now bearing fruits. Green Tropics is also in full swing also investing hundreds of millions of dollars in sugar cane production. The Norwegian Cruise Lines will now be investing in the southern part of the country. The government has repossessed the Commerce Bight Port and will soon be investing millions of dollars to bring back trade to the south. Most recently the government announced the opening of the National Bank to offer mortgages at interest rates of no more than 6.5%.

Truly then, the second term of the UDP is one of progress. The humps of the first administration are now surmounted and the flight path is now clear for takeoff. It will only be a matter of months now before the country will be cruising on pure development. All because of the UDP!