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Undebatable Budget Print E-mail
( 2 Votes )
Written by Shane D. Williams   
Thursday, 27 March 2014 00:00

The majority of Belizeans are extremely disappointed in the performance of the PUP parliamentarians during the debate of the 2014/2015 national budget, and Prime Minister Dean Barrow is the man to blame. One woman in the gallery of the National Assembly on Tuesday, March 25th, said, “He [PM Barrow] made it difficult on the Opposition because he went and presented an undebatable budget.” However, the opposition members went to the House and tried a thing.

The “Leader” of the Opposition was first to take a shot. In what supporters of both the U.D.P. and P.U.P. are saying was the weakest budget presentation by a Leader of the Opposition ever, Francis Fonseca’s only memorable statement was in name tagging Ramen noodles to Ministers of Government. Fonseca’s comical performance lasted less than 30 minutes. The only thing he managed to do, other than making people laugh at his jokes, was making people laugh at him. It was a very feeble attempt to convince people that he knows a cent about economics. When he spoke facts he failed to show he understood the numbers, and, even worst, for the majority of the presentation he chose to ignore the factual figures from the Statistical Institute of Belize and introduced his own. Fonseca lied when he said 0.7 percent growth was the “worst economic performance in some 20 years”. He lied when he said, “foreign direct investments fell to its lowest levels in the last 15 years.” He lied when he tried to pass off the current debt to GDP ratio as the worst ever. Perhaps he forgot about Ralph Fonseca’s 2004 budget when he tried to pass off the PUP administration’s debt to GDP ratio at 58 percent (public debt at $1.34 Billion). While Standards and Poor’s assessment showed that the PUP Government’s debt to GDP ratio was actually 106 percent with a public debt of $2.12 Billion. The report further showed that Belize’s public debt to GDP ratio shot up from 75 percent in 2003 to the crippling 106 percent in 2004. Belize’s debt to GDP ratio is nowhere near troubling today.

The Member from Fort George delivered a more skillful performance, comedic performance as it was. HIS only memorable segment was a rehearsal of Mother Goose’s “Humpty Dumpty”. This particular member is no stranger to a lie and he flat out lied when he spoke about unemployment being 25 percent. The Statistical Institute of Belize conducts Labour Force Surveys and its highest unemployment rate on record is 16.1 percent. He may be excused if he would have said his source was from the 2010 census which recorded unemployment at 23 percent. However, the census figure is always much higher because it is recorded in a different time span from the official survey. For example, the 2000 census showed unemployment was at 20 percent when the official survey showed that it was at 12.7 percent. The opposition members clung on to Musa’s figures and different members referred to the 25 percent unemployment rate throughout the day. It is possible they could all be ignorant of the true figures but it is far more likely that they all chose to lie to the Belizean people.

Apart from critiquing their style and effectiveness, it is difficult to write anything about the Opposition members’ presentations in the 2014 budget debate because there was nothing of substance. Their only two members that deserve to be mentioned are Hon. Briceno and Hon. Requena. Briceno showed the nation why he defeated Francis Fonseca for leader of the P.U.P. Even though we may all agree that Johnny doesn’t have “it”, he proved once again that he has more of “it” than Francis Fonseca. Requena made the most use of the budget document. He pointed out funds that were allocated for certain projects and pointed out certain projects in Toledo West that need funding. Requena left Members asking if he wants the entire budget. Hon. Dolores Garcia from Belize Rural Central tried to pass herself off as a champion for women, while not explaining her rejection of the Special Envoy’s invitation to address the women of Belize at the national empowerment rally. Her vile behavior continued and she continues to get a pass from the media. No station aired the segment while Hon. Patrick Faber was speaking and she called him an ass. Her days in the House seem to be numbered however as multiple members of caucus stood up during the debate and said, “you can’t reach Dolores,” which is something her constituents have been saying for the last two years and the five when she was in Port Loyola. Another memorable moment from the Opposition was when Ramirez slammed down the budget book screaming “nothing for Southwest”, which is exactly what he has done as the Area Representative of Corozal Southwest.

Julius Espat delivered a budget speech. His supporters hope the one he “lost” was better than the one he read.

PM Barrow’s billion dollar budget passed through the House of Representatives on Tuesday, March 25th. It now sits in the Senate.

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 March 2014 14:06