Former Leader of the Opposition and Area Representative for Mesopotamia, Moses Shyne Barrow is calling on the Briceno administration to put aside the infrastructural works and pay attention to the Belizeans. It is quite an ironic situation as it was only a few years ago that the now PUP Government was calling on the previous administration to do the same. Both sides used the basis that people cannot eat streets. Barrow made the appeal during today’s house meeting.
Moses “Shyne” Barrow, Area Representative, Mesopotamia Division: “We see more money going to streets that we cannot eat rather than the Human Development Ministry and I have to remind my colleagues in the government that we are in the middle of a pandemic. We are still dealing with people who are unemployed, people who are not getting any unemployment relief. People who are not getting any type of social safety assistance and if they had been getting that has been depleted and so we should see more money going into human development Madam Speaker. COVID-19 is not just a medical problem and you can see by the rise in violent crime that poverty, human development, the lack of having, the desperation, people walking around here suffering they would rather be dead than living is why there is such a lack for the value of life. And so I would urge my colleagues to be the government that the people voted for. The people did not vote for the UDP because as you so well put it all we want to do is build roundabouts and build roads to nowhere. The infrastructure ministry got the most money or the second most money in the budget. They don’t need any more money it’s the human development ministry and even education. So that is my problem. We continue to focus where we shouldn’t focus and where your promised that you wouldn’t focus. You promised that you- there’s nowhere in the Plan Belize Manifesto that talks about any infrastructure because you on the other side condemned building street that we can’t eat and right now people are starving more than ever. Back then we had a normal economy, normal challenges. We are in a pandemic and the bodies that are dropping in this country is a result of the irresponsible management of the human development disaster and we see this with the supplementary where there is no consideration for the human suffering that is taking place in this country but all we see is continued investments in streets that we cannot eat.”
Responding to Barrow was the Minister of Infrastructural Development and Housing, Julius Espat. Espat gave a lengthy counter to Barrow explaining the rationale behind the current works whilst harping on the need for an audit of the Petrocaribe funds.
Julius Espat, Minister of Infrastructure Development and Housing: “Most of the projects that have been mentioned are projects that we inherited in the pipeline. The Caracol Road for example is one of them so it’s not a project that was initiated by us but in reality is a project that we saved twenty eight million dollars on. Something that you all did not even conceive of. The other one is the Haulover Bridge, again a project that we inherited from you all but look at the figures, we saved another twenty eight million dollars on that project by looking at and analyzing the project and so in reality we have saved approximately fifty six million dollars just on those two projects Leader of the Opposition. And then we’re looking at the importance of infrastructure. I can understand what the Member from Mesop is repeating and repeating and repeating about you can’t eat street and stuff like that Madam Speaker but the truth is the economy relies on the infrastructure of a country to be able to move forward and what we are doing Madam Speaker is the basic necessity. I would like him to drive in Belama Phase four. I did it two days ago so he can see the need for infrastructure. I would like him to visit the Lake Independence Area which I did two days ago Madam Speaker so he can feel the need. It is difficult to understand these situations when you’re abroad and when you’re wining and dining on Hennessy and all that type of stuff, that does not allow you to understand and appreciate the reality of the people that we try to serve. And I’m not even speaking of the sugar roads Madam Speaker we don’t even have enough resources right now to be able to address the sugar roads they way they need to be addressed. And so I’m just humbly explaining to the member from Mesop that there are realities that we have to deal with and those are some of them.
In response to the member from the Leader of the Opposition I think he has more years in parliament than I do and he has been a minister much longer than I so he should know Madam Speaker what CAP three is and what CAP 2 is. CAP 3 is basically the money that you get from the international financing institutions and CAP 2 when it pertains to the same project is government’s part. Whenever you have a project Madam Speaker you borrow money to a certain extent and government has a counter and that is placed in CAP 2. So I think you should read little bit more about these things Leader of the Opposition before you get up and I won’t go any further in saying anything more. And so Madam Speaker those are my basic response to the concerns that they have but in reality Madam Speaker and I am speaking the truth and from the heart the country needs lots more investment in infrastructure, one of those is housing they are aware of that. That is a part of the infrastructure that we are trying to do to give the people that don’t have an opportunity for shelter. You see Madam Speaker the difference between the People’s United Party under plan Belize and the previous government is that we want to leave something that people can hold onto, that people can have a future. Housing Madam Speaker is something that will hit close to the hearts of all Belizeans that will never have that opportunity in their lives to own a house. We will give them the opportunity, even though it’s a small structure Madam Speaker but it’s a structure designed to be able to grow with them when their family grows, when their economy grows, when they got to a certain level Madam Speaker that house as part of the infrastructure development will grow with them. It is tangible, they will be able to benefit from it, they will be able to use it and mortgage it so that they can further the education of their children. They will have a future Madam Speaker. Please let us not forget Madam Speaker the past government wasted approximately seven hundred million dollars in PetroCaribe and there is absolutely nothing to show in infrastructure for that. There is nothing to show in housing infrastructure for that, there is nothing to show in our health facilities for that, there is nothing to show in our social programs for that Madam Speaker and I am pleading to Cabinet we need to do an audit of the PetroCaribe funds spend during the UDP administration so that the people of Belize can understand what happened and where that money ended up.”