This morning just before ten o’clock, Leader of the Opposition, John Briceno paid a courtesy call upon Prime Minister Dean Barrow at the Whitfield Tower on Coney Drive in Belize City. According to Briceno, there were several topics discussed in this meeting which is part of his 100-day agenda as the recently elected Party Leader for the People’s United Party.
“I’ve been trying to meet as many people as possible, talk to them a little bit about the party and the work that we want to do and in this case the Prime Minister we have met, we had a very cordial meeting. As a country we have so many problems that are challenging us from the issue of the correspondent banking to the economy, to crime and well obviously the issue with the Sarstoon so I think that as responsible leaders we need to keep our focus on the issues that are confronting the country. As the leader of the People’s United Party I have said that our country comes first and that we in the PUP are prepared to work with the government at any time in any way that they believe that we can be helpful. We have a lot of people with the wealth of knowledge in how to address these issues when it comes to the economy and the correspondent banking is certainly one of the issues that we are prepared to help. If the government should see it fit to ask us to participate and to assist them in any way that we can we are ready and willing to be able to do our part.”
On the list of issues was the matter of correspondent banking which Briceno describes a national concern that the PUP is willing to team up with the Government of Belize where needed to tackle the problem.
“As the leader of the People’s United Party I have said that our country comes first and that we in the PUP are prepared to work with the government at any time and in any way that they believe that we can be helpful. We have a lot of people with the wealth of knowledge in how to address these issues when it comes to the economy and the correspondent banking is certainly one of the issues that we are prepared to help. If the government should see it fit to ask us to participate and to assist them in any way that we can we are ready and willing to be able to do our part because the correspondent banking affects each and every one of us not only the business people and those who have credit cards but even when you want to go and buy food at the supermarkets it can affect each and every one of us, it can collapse our economy and so it is something that is beyond politics that we should take a serious look at , all us so yes we are prepared to assist.”
The matter arising over the weekend in the Sarstoon River when the Belize Territorial Volunteers ventured out there is one that was also discussed between Opposition Leader and the Prime Minister.
“As to the issue of the Sarstoon we did discuss that issue with the Prime Minister. We believe in the PUP that the Guatemalans were wrong and that the Guatemalans were in our territory and that we should take strong diplomatic action. We believe that we are supposed to send a very strongly worded letter or diplomatic note to the Guatemalans telling them that they were in our sea and that we will not allow them to do that, that they are in our territorial waters and we stand by that position. We also believe that we need to probably consider internationalizing what is happening on the ground.”
The performance of the Parliamentarians in the National Assembly has been criticized by many as being juvenile and uncalled for. This matter was also discussed between the two leaders, resulting in a commitment by both for improved communication and debate in the House of Representatives.
“That we should debate the issues and that we should challenge one another on the issues but that we do not need to be nasty, we do not need to be negative and name calling and attack each other, there is no need for that. We were not elected because you are the person that can be the nastiest in the national assembly, you are elected because the people believe that they can have that confidence that you are going represent them best. I for one don’t believe in the name calling, I believe that we should debate the issues and there is no need to be hating one another and I’ve been saying this over and over and people are probably getting tired of me saying that but there is no need for the hate and dislike. We are small country. Wherever we turn we meet each other so it’s not like you cuss someone out and you don’t see them again for several months, we got to meet with them in the supermarkets, in the parks or wherever it is that you go so we need to lower that rhetoric because when you raise that kind of rhetoric in the house and that negative feeling it also translates to your supporters and then they believe that they should also behave in that fashion; when you do that then you see people fighting out there because of politics and that is not what we want. I will also ask my colleagues to see if we can lower the name calling and the divisiveness in the house and for us to have a good debate, a healthy debate but to debate on the issues and debate the merits and demerits of what is in front of us.”
The meeting lasted for over an hour, ending just after eleven o’clock this morning.