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Private Sector Senator says budget lacks fiscal discipline

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Senators today debated the General Revenue Appropriation (2018/2019) Bill. The first to contribute to the debate was Senator for the Private Sector, Mark Lizarraga. Senator Lizarraga’s debate was about an hour, about 15 minutes above the allowed time frame to make his presentation. He did so by focusing on facts contained in the budget. Lizarraga says the budget lacks fiscal discipline and seeks to tax the poor.

Mark Lizarraga, Senator: “This budget for us is yet another no consultation, burdensome, merciless and uninspiring budget. It’s another budget lacking totally in fiscal discipline and sustainability. It is yet another budget that is maintaining steadiness yes but in its size and the unquenchable appetite for taxes. It is yet another budget, Mr. President that is consolidating our stability but as a debt ridden state. It is yet another budget that is advancing growth yes but for those that benefit from the continued borrowing and spending of a growing national debt and this budget is nothing but a recommitment, an appalling threat for more of the same. And this Mr. President five years into program budgeting, at least five years, we are now in this program budgeting exercise and billions and billions of dollars later this is unacceptable, it’s shameful, it’s disrespectful to the taxpayers and I’m allowed to paraphrase somebody recently said ‘it’s dishonest and corrupt because you are not delivering what you are paid to do.’ But sadly Mr. President, noncompliance is reflective and all too evident of this insolence that is allowed to prevail with too many in the service of our public purse. They made a promise that they were going to try and cut expenses, recurrent expenses by 5%; well sadly we see that in last fiscal year we only had a 2% reduction in recurrent expenses and this is disappointing given the promise that we had for government to attempt to cut 5%. And especially Mr. President in an environment of Government’s insistence on the need to continue to increase taxes on the Belizean people that only serves to make the cost of living more expensive and make us less competitive not only at home but less competitive abroad for our goods and services. And this budget like so many others Mr. President is maintaining its steadiness in wrong remedies. It’s consolidating its stability with more of the same. The only growth that is being advanced is the growth of government- government is getting too big and too heavy and there is nothing as in so many other budgets before it to advance collective growth of the private sector that I represent.”

According to Senator Lizarraga, the country’s economy has remained stagnant since the previous fiscal year with government’s spending skyrocketing, at the cost of the economy expanding. He says the best remedy for this problem is to cut government spending and effectively reduce the formal sector.

Mark Lizarraga, Senator: “Compounding that is that remember all those cash flow savings we realized through the blessings of benefitting from reduced market interest rates? All of those gains have been eliminated from the constant borrowing desires that drive or bellicose an ill-advised and unsustainable spending schemes. Gone. Because I will show you when I get into the real book, the meat of it, that this year we are spending more on interest payments than last year. So where did the savings go? If you claim that your previous governments were borrowing at high commercial rates, 15%, 11% whatever it was, then you would expect to see outlays for interest rates go down won’t you ? Not go up. It only lends to show that in fact we are borrowing more and more and more. So we have to ask these dazzling and brilliant minds in Government when will you get it. You cannot tax an economy; you cannot tax a country into prosperity. You can’t it’s simply not possible. So this lends to the question who is advising you?”

Lizarraga says that his year’s budget lacks strategy in policy direction.
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