Bills, bills, bills. A raft of bills was today taken to the House for a Special Sitting of the House of Representatives that was held in Belmopan. Hours of the debate were dedicated to two supplementary bills for both fiscal year 2020/2021 and 2021/2022. These bills were brought to the House for approval for the government to spend monies. The Bills came with much criticism and opposition from the United Democratic Party. The main criticism had to do with the lack of details on the expenditures.
Rebutting to the Opposition’s criticism was several of the PUP area representatives including Cayo South Representative, Julius Espat; Belize Rural Central’s Representative, Dolores Balderamos Garcia and Prime Minister John Briceno who all reminded the Opposition that when they were in government they provided no information on supplementary bills.
Julius Espat, Minister of Infrastructure Development and Housing: “We are 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 streets 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.”
Dolores Balderamos Garcia, Minister of Human Development: “Even though people will sometimes say that you cannot eat streets there is nothing really that we can do in terms of the development of this country if we do not have proper infrastructure. With the years of neglect of Belize Rural Central I have to salute the Honorable Member for Cayo South and his Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Housing for the work that has been done in my constituency thus far. The upgrading of the road to Gales Point, the paving of the Philip Goldson Highway through Ladyville and of course the paving of Lord’s Bank Road. No need to point of order member and Mr. Leader I take my seat.”
Hon. John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize: “We have to bring a supplementary bill because you did not make the necessary adjustments when you were bringing supplementary bills last year you were not making adjustments to your revenue. Your revenue was down by about thirty percent so obviously if we are operating based on what you are saying that you’re going to collect obviously we find out that we are short of money. Thanks to you, you did not make the necessary arrangements. That is why now we have to make the necessary adjustments Madam Speaker. I mean most of my friends and also the members of this side of the House have been answering to the case that he’s trying to make when there is absolutely no case. You stay embarrassing yourself my friend. Let me point out something Madam Speaker. He says that we are not giving details. Now what ? You want me to put that we will buy five pounds of soap and so many paper, and so many pens ? Obviously that does not belong in a budget. Either you don’t know better or you’re just trying to create mischief, one or the other you decide but certainly you’re embarrassing yourself. But let me remind you here we have a supplementary budget that your government presented to this National Assembly on the third of February 2017. A supplementary budget of $14,336,508. You have one, two three, four line items and now you come here and come complain because we don’t put how much paper we are buying and how many pencils ? I mean the face of brass of this gentleman that you will complain- for the very first time we have a government that is giving details on the money that is being spent and you will still complain.”