PM Briceño Delivers Speech to Conclude Three-Day Budget Debate
After a robust discourse that took place over the past three days, Prime Minister John Briceño delivered the closing remarks to the 2023–2024 budget debate. In his hour-long speech, PM Briceo emphasized his Administration’s accomplishments in rebuilding the country from the devastation left by the UDP.But, before getting into the different projects and initiatives that the government has piloted for the betterment of Belizean lives, PM Briceño took the opportunity to highlight the strides his party has made in his constituency, Orange Walk Central. He also made a point to call out the repeated absence of the area representative for Queen Square, Denise “Sista B” Barrow.
Hon. John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize: “Let me start by thanking all the members on both sides of this honorable house for their contribution for the budget debate. All thirty members because well one never shows up in this chamber, were elected by a majority of the people in their constituencies and this exercise provides each one of them the unlimited time and the space and yes even the latitude for them to come here to celebrate our accomplishments, or in their case of the opposition to express their discontent. It can and I say it should be a spirited debate because it is an annual exercise which draws the largest audience in our parliamentary proceedings. As such this is more than just an ordinary debate, it is the biggest event in the parliamentary calendar. And so the banter should be raised to a high level and yes passions are heightened. This is a part of the color and the tradition of the parliamentary democracy the world over. All in this chamber should welcome it fully aware that we are governed by rules but also appreciating, Madam Speaker, that the more lively and responsive the democracy the better it is for sustainability. We recognize the balance Madam Speaker must maintain as we expect the chair to recognize the sense of occasion and in this annual exercise. And speaking about the sense of occasion again I must register my complete dissatisfaction with the fact that the member for Queen Square is once again absent from this chamber and not here to represent the good people of Queen Square. I therefore appeal to the Leader of the Opposition to speak to your aunt to address this matter or we may be left with no other option but to amend the standing orders to ensure that no member of this house can so flagrantly disregard his or her responsibility to attend proceedings of the National Assembly.”
In addition, PM Briceño took jabs at the speech made by the Leader of the Opposition, Moses “Shyne” Barrow, and addressed some of the points made during his presentation. He claims that what could have been a memorable and articulate budget speech resulted in a performance that fell flat.
Hon. John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize: “What we have seen from the member from Mesopotamia, what we have seen of him as the Leader of the Opposition and what we have gotten from him is once again the same, all the same. A representative who was unprepared with ill conceived pronouncements which resulted in a performance that was most unmemorable and lackluster. The fact is that on Wednesday Belizeans saw a former entertainer who is a poor excuse of a politician. They saw a former entertainer who is an even poorer excuse of a leader of a mass party. Those of us on this side thought that the Leader of the Opposition that preceded this one, I see he’s getting closer to that seat you know ? – The member from Collet had reached a new low in 2021 when he responded to our first budget but then last year in 2022 we were shocked and dismayed by the member from Mesopotamia who for the first time did not even have a prepared response and spent two hours of aimless, pointless, blabbering. But man this time the Leader of the Opposition outdid himself or as it were he managed to sink below last year’s poor performance to hit a new low with this year’s special blend of errors, flawed date and mistruths upon misinformation. It would be unparliamentary to use the real word we would want to say so we’ll say mistruths.”
PM Briceño emphasized the economic growth that his administration achieved while comparing the shortfalls of the United Democratic Party in this regard during the Barrow administration. He adds that his government has had to take over and complete many works that were started under the previous administration but were not completed.
Hon. John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize: “GDP growth he claimed was higher under the UDP well I could send you a copy this is from SIB. He claimed that it was higher under the UDP. First he admitted that in four of their thirteen years there was actually a contraction in GDP and then you average those with the tepid growth of the other nine even the IMF concluded that UDP growth was between 1.5% and 2% over their thirteen years in office. That’s the IMF that’s not me. Now let me tell you now the PUP growth during these two years have averaged 13.8%. So Mr.Leader of the Opposition there is egg on your face. He claimed that foreign direct investments and the investment climate were in trouble but net foreign direct investment flows were $250 million dollars in 2021, $265 million dollars last year and we expect to meet or exceed those levels this year. 2022 FDI or foreign direct investment under the PUP in 2022, check this out, was 45% more than the foreign direct investment under the UDP in 2019 preCOVID. 45% yet he will come and tell you people don’t want to invest in Belize, there’s a lost in confidence. So again Mr.Leader of the Opposition there is egg on your face. He claimed out of one side of his mouth that too much money is being allotted in the budget to the Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Housing, $194 million dollars was the figure he cited. He cited that over and over probably in his sleep repeating $194 million dollars and his wife probably had to wake him up and tell him ‘Boy you’re talking too much in your sleep.’ But on the other side of the mouth he took credit for the Coastal Road, the Caracol Road, the Sarteneja Road, the upgrading of the PGIA and the Remate bypass among other projects. Well the reason the Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Housing budget is $194 million dollars Mr. Leader of the Opposition is because this administration, this PUP government, had to find the funds and allot them for the projects that the UDP started but did not fully fund nor finish them. What was it that his father used to come here year after year to say? He had a favorite term “Due to capacity constraints.” Capacity constraints is a nice way to say that he has too many duncey people in Cabinet so they can’t finish the work. But let me give you a few examples Madam Speaker. One, the Belize Integral Security Program. This project was designed and developed in 2010-2011, a $60 million dollar project and it was signed on the 21st of August 2015. Remember Minister of Police and Minister of Defense from 2015 they signed this $60 million dollar project you know ? And this project should have completed in five years. The reality is that this PUP administration in November 2020 when we took over the money that was used of the $60 million dollars was for what ? Just to pay salaries, to cover salaries, office rental, purchase of vehicles and there was no tangible outputs for the implementation of this project.”