Parliamentarians are currently in Belmopan where the Budget Reading for the fiscal year 2020/2021 is underway. Prime Minister Dean Barrow has presented a one point three-six billion dollar budget with the commitment of new taxes. The presentation continues at this hour in Belmopan with other Parliamentarians presenting their views on the budget. The Prime Minister opened his presentation this morning speaking on the differences made under his administration when compared to the state of the economy when he took office in 2008.
Rt.Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize: “Today is everyone knows is the final budget presentation of this parliament and my swan song as Minister of Finance and Prime Minister of this country. I consider the results for this year and the proposals for the next to be persuasively positive born of dexterous public sector management and collaboration amongst the various sectors of our society. The citizenry had lost ownership of public utilities, inflation was surging, foreign currency reserves had plummeted in a direct threat to our exchange peg and the cost of private credit was at an astronomical 14.3%; that was the state of affairs we inherited from the last government. On the wider panorama Madam Speaker, the world was reeling with instability. The great recession had been detonated, oil prices shot up to 150 dollars per barrel and commodities prices skyrocketed. So we were confronted with these tumultuous headwinds and many other adversities at various points during these twelve years. These included but were by no means limited to storms and hurricanes, climate change induced hazards, de-risking and correspondent banking menaces , historic droughts, crop diseases and even the aggression of our Western neighbor. In the face of all this my administration has never recalled and never retreated. Indeed we delivered, I can proclaim with pride, the longest period of fiscal and macroeconomic stability in post-independent Belize. There has been no IMF standby program such as we encountered when we took office forced upon the other side by their utter profligacy and bankruptcy. There was no IMF standby program, no debt default, no retrenchment, no threat to our precious currency Peg.”
Prime Minister Barrow went on to present figures for various sectors highlighting the improvements made under his administration and boasting a vast improvement in Belize’s economy.
Rt.Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize: “What it immediately means, what it unquestionably certifies is this from 2008 until the end of 2019 this UDP Administration would have presided over an 87 percent increase in economic output. 87 percent increase in economic output from 2008 until the end of 2019. In other words, we almost doubled the economy adding a net annual economic production of over two billion dollars. Furthermore we achieved this miracle growth without the unsustainable fiscal steroid of high-cost commercial borrowing and fire sale privatizations, which were the things that underwrote the artificial numbers and the growth hoax of the People’s United Party years. Complementing this groundbreaking expansion is the strength of public sector finances as measured by both revenue generation and investment expenditure. In 2008 the budget’s recurrent revenues stood at 591 million dollars, today this bedrock factor of public finances stands at one point one eight four billion dollars, double the level of 12 years ago. And on the investment side, there is one focal measure one yardstick that distills and defines the reason for being of this administration. a stunning accomplishment that elevates our work to the top most summit of progressive governance. This year’s investment in personal emoluments for all over 14,000 or so public officers police and military personnel. All of our teachers ,nurses, doctors and every last person who serves or citizens and of course the approximately 1,000 pensioners we look after in their post service life. Thus it is that salaries for all those just listed amount now to 540 point five million dollars up from just two hundred and seventy six point three in 2008. Each and every year of this administration’s tenure then has on average meant an additional 35 million dollars invested in those on whom we depend to serve protect empower and enable those who serve protect the poor and enable the citizens and residents of this country. There is no precedent to match this record to approximate this performance to rival even by half this commitment to reward our most precious resource the people of Belize, the good people of Belize. So I say this to those on the other side those that vulgarly distort our record and tirelessly twist, mangle and spit upon the truth; have you no shame? Will you never even try to cover your nakedness, your indecent exposure? “
As it relates to the millions spent on infrastructure, Prime Minister Dean Barrow lashed out on the opposition saying that the investments on roads and highways is in fact an investment in the people.
Rt.Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize: “You obsessed almost to the point of lunacy over this administration’s transformative infrastructure program. You build a nonsense up on stilts case, you say that our building roads and bridges and paving streets and fixing lanes and putting in water systems and health posts and opening up highways to Caracol and to the coast are no investment in people, but truth is eternal and verities are invincible and the truth of Belize’s uplift and the verity of our country’s remake are there for all the world to see. This is what confounds the Leader of the Opposition and it is what exposes to the full light of day the nudity the folly and the complete fakery of their benighted party. Madam speaker, let me turn to recent economic developments. The deceleration of economic activity in Belize during the last three quarters of 2019 reflects the unpropitious regional and global trend. Before external conditions shifted we had grown by almost 6 percent in the first quarter of 2019. Preliminary estimates by the IMF now show that last year global growth for the entire world was 20% below target in our own region real growth in 2019 is forecast to be at negative one point eight percent in Central America and barely 1% in the Caribbean.”
As we noted, the budget continues at this hour and we will have more on today’s sitting later in this newscast.///