The 100-days report from the Briceno administration was anticipated to have a long list of accomplishments based on the manifesto promises. Today, however, the government released a 3-minute video presentation from the Prime Minister John Briceno. Notably missing from the summary was the issues of UNCAC, redistricting and campaign financing. What the Prime Minister did make note of was the issues of Covid-19 and the five hundred million dollar deficit inherited from the previous administration.
Hon. John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize: “Today as government we continue to consult on our national budget. We said we wanted a respectful partnership and we will work hard to achieve this. After hearing from the former Prime Minister and the Financial Secretary it was revealed that the 112 government vehicles were sold off for an average of only $2,600, some as low as $200. This is beyond shameful. Our starting point is clear. Our economy has collapsed. Personal income has fallen to 1992 levels. 68% of our labor force is either unemployed or underemployed. Unemployment is at 30%. .86 cents out of every dollar that government collects are spent on wages, salaries and pensions. Our debt to GDP ratio is at 134% and the UDP left us this year alone with a $500 million dollar deficit that we will all have to pay. This is our inherited starting point, this is what the UDP did to our country. But our Belizean spirit is strong and your government will face the hard work ahead of us and together we will overcome. Already in just three months many positive results are showing. Our health team is leading the way to flattening the COVID curve. We have amended the legislation to strengthen the Public Accounts Committee. Our agriculture team is aggressively promoting our farm to table policy. Our National Security Ministry is moving towards innovation. Our foreign trade ministry is opening up markets for our products. Our education ministry is preparing for schools to reopen safely and our economic recovery team are all hands on deck to implement our recovery strategy. Our vaccine plan is ready and being fine tuned for when the first vaccine arrives next month. These things were possible because we consulted and we’re facing the challenges face on using our plan Belize as our north star. Let us continue to reach out to each other especially the many struggling to put food on the table in this difficult time.”
Also speaking about his one hundred days in office is Caribbean Shores Area Representative Kareem Musa. Musa is the Minister of Home Affairs and new Growth Industries. He says the experience has been very fruitful.
Hon. Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs and New Growth Industries: “It’s been a very fruitful experience for me as the new Minister of Home Affairs. We have already instituted some beneficial changes in my opinion. The disbanding of the GSU and the introduction of a new unit the GI III that is underway. We have a situation that concerns the welfare of police officers who as you know were a part of the population most affected by COVID. We had at one point three hundred police officers who were COVID positive and two of our officers died as well from COVID and so we introduced a ticketing system that now limits their interaction with the public that is something again very positive. We have been liaising with various embassies like the US Embassy to come up with a witness protection program so it’s not just limited to the enforcement aspect but also trying to secure convictions in our judiciary, that is something we’re very proud of working on that type of legislation. And of course over all changing the culture and the approach of police officers that is something that I find is significant as the new Minister of Home Affairs for my particular mandate because prior to the election I can tell you that I have lawsuits including the loss of my dear friend Allison Major to the hands of a police officer and so when I come into this position that is my approach, that’s the song I will sing day in and day out to my police officers that you have to approach people with respect, with manners- I understand that at times you will be attacked and you have to defend yourself but for the most part we have to be able to change this culture of abuse and brutality within the department.”