Wrapping up the budget debate yesterday was Senator for Government Business, Godwin Hulse. The People’s United Party in both the House of Representative and the Senate have strongly criticized the budget a calling it a ‘meatless’ ‘barrow-gant’ budget smeared with ‘barrow-nomics’. Hulse responded to these criticisms by first accepting that there are several inaccuracies in the budget.
Godwin Hulse, Senator for Government Business: “Senator Courtney talked about the projections in the big book were inaccurate and I concur. There are many many errors and we had it last year and we have it this year again and I urge my colleagues to try to do better. These estimates are prepared by public officers starting with the Finance Officers, they go to the Financial Secretary who is really their boss and then it comes back the other way around. In my Ministry which I’ll talk about in a moment I have personally engaged the Finance Officer, personally engaged the CEO and sat down with them for hours to go through these numbers for two reasons; I want them to be accurate, I want the performance indicators to be right and reasonable that I can support and I am extremely sensitive and thin skinned and I don’t like criticism at all. I am happy to see nobody critics but maybe never praised the Ministry of Agriculture but they didn’t criticize. So I agree the figures need to reflect and it can’t only be cut and paste because that says nothing and in fact that speaks to a kind of laziness and a carelessness to say that it doesn’t matter ‘we will just put some figures in a book and that should not happen.’ I want not to turn quickly and I agree with Senator Smith who says the issues really are poverty alleviation and get the level of crime down. We have in this country have developed a conscience of patronage, a sickening conscience of patronage and thank goodness I’m not on a ballot to be elected because maybe I wouldn’t because I have to say the truth. The fact of the matter is people in the inner city, and I campaigned in the inner city, are desperate because they don’t have a piece of land, they live in a little place they can’t even grow a stick of weed if that was legal, they can’t fish because the canal doesn’t have a place for them to fish, they don’t have jobs especially if they went to jail because nobody will hire them because they are jail birds and so they are trapped. They need that pantry assistance, they need that boost assistance but more than that they need some kind of employment and who has the jobs in Belize? The British did not leave any cities with industries, that wasn’t them. The cities that the British had were shopkeepers, the English are a nation of shopkeepers and who are the shopkeepers now? Indian and Chinese and they don’t hire anybody and the people that they hire are just a few and generally they want to hire what they call ‘their own people’. We looked at this budget, at least the portion of the budget that our Ministry is responsible for with responsibility. We went through it item by item, we looked at where we could cut, we looked what was more important given the limited funds, I wanted $4.7 million for capital 2 I got two point something but we saw how we could work with that and how we could try to push this forward because we recognize that agriculture is one of the most powerful pillars of the economy and if we could boost it and drive it and get he exports up and I can guarantee that we are going to push it and push it to the max.”