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Prime Minister’s New Year’s message

Prime Minister Dean Barrow took the opportunity of his New Year’s message to highlight the ongoing infrastructural works going on countrywide. The Prime Minister also spoke of inroads made in the growth of the economy.

Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister

“2017 was certainly an improvement over 2016, not least in the fact that the year just past saw a return to all-important GDP and economic growth. Exports were up an impressive 13% in the first 9 months, and a historically low year-over-year inflation rate, pegged at just 1.2%, continued. The importance of this in preserving the purchasing power of the Belize dollar, helping to fight poverty and growing the middle class, cannot be overstated. It is in that same context that we view 2017’s final tranche in the three-year salary adjustment package for Public Officers and Teachers. No other country in the region has so generously rewarded Government employees, and of this, we are immensely proud. Also, the Statistical Institute of Belize just released very encouragingly Labour Force information. According to the Institute, unemployment fell to 9.7% in September of 2017. This was down from the 11.1% in September 2016, and was extremely welcome year-end news.”

The Prime Minister focused on areas of the economy that have been performing well over the last year.

Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister

“Early in 2017 we also succeeded in restructuring the SuperBond. We thereby escaped the threatened draining of our recurrent revenues and foreign reserves and the imminent strangulation of our ability to service our people and economy. We had a bumper sugar crop, increased our access to export markets in the non-traditional areas of chicken, grains, processed meat and even ice cream. And tourism continued its magnificent star turn as the highest flyer of all. Indeed, as at the end of November 2017, overnight tourism had increased by 9.5% over the same period for 2016. And cruise calls went up by 3.7%, netting both an overall increase and, for the second year running, topping the 1 million visitor mark.”

And while the physical infrastructure dominated the address, Prime Minister Barrow spoke of the importance of technology infrastructure.

Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister

“Accordingly, 75% of Government ministries are now interconnected via our secure network. As well, Public Officers are being provided with the resources to improve collaboration and productivity. Also, we are investing in special software to overhaul the management of Belize’s identity system. A new platform will improve the integrity and speed of delivery of official documents such as birth certificates, passports and voter IDs. In fact, fraud will be next to impossible with the authentication process we will now be pioneering.”

The Prime Minister said he had received confirmation that a 40 million US dollar financing package for the construction of the entire Caracol Road has been approved. It is expected that the construction of the road will bring a boost to the tourism sector.