Francis Begs, Kevin Squanders Print E-mail
( 3 Votes )
Written by Administrator   
Friday, 07 March 2014 00:00

The Leader of the Opposition is these days floating about from media house to media house trying to convince the Belizean people that the PUP-controlled municipalities are being unfairly treated. He claims that no development is taking place in these municipalities because the Government is not helping them out.

He could not be more wrong. Every single municipality is getting more than its fair share of resources to improve conditions for residents, the only difference is that because the PUP-controlled municipalities cannot be trusted with finances, these are being channeled through the Ministry of Works. And there is great reason for the PUP municipalities to not be trusted. There is absolutely no financials available for Dangriga and Punta Gorda and the Orange Walk financials paint a picture of a town administration more interested in personal enrichment than in community development.

Looking at the financials posted on the Orange Walk Town Council website, it gives an idea of what is taking place there. For the period of April 2012 to March 2013, the financials prove that the council is doing well in revenue collection to the point where they are extremely efficient at taxing the residents of that municipality. Revenues from the Market, Taxi Parking Fees, Bus Terminal Parking Fee, Vehicle Vendors Fee and Property tax are all up by massive numbers. So good are they at taxing people that the revenues are at $2,991,168.18 outperforming what they had budgeted for by over half a million dollars.
And while they outperform themselves in revenue collection, that is about as good as they are. For the same period, April 2012 to March 2013 they spent in excess of 1.5 million dollars in salaries, wages, allowances and overtime. This kind of expenditure in salaries is simply unacceptable. But it does not end there, the council is also spending money on nondescript items such as miscellaneous, which stood at a whopping 98 thousand dollars and on implements at 33 thousand dollars. It is anyone's guess what these expenditures are really since the headings really point to nothing specific.

Spending on these items is that much more glaring when the amount spent on true municipal development is looked at. For example, a measly 32 thousand dollars was spent on maintenance of streets, only 6 thousand dollars was spent on drains and culverts, and the cemetery only received 700 dollars. Yet repairs and maintenance of vehicles was an astronomical 67 thousand dollars. That and 31 thousand dollars worth of medical and education grants points to a council, which really has its priorities all twisted.

It can be said then, that the council is being improperly managed. Money is being spent in areas where it ought not to and it would appear that Bernard is making it rain on a select few at the expense of tax payers.