It was day two of the budget debate today in Belmopan. The day expired without any real fire or fanfare but the opposition kept in line with their talking points and the wholesale rejection of the 2019-2020 budget. The first to take the mic this morning was Cayo South Area Representative and PUP’s Julius Espat but we will get to him in a few. We start our coverage with PUP Area Representative for Caribbean Shores, Kareem Musa who spoke on Prime Minister’s reduced allocation to the judiciary, which Musa says is at a new low of point seven six percent of the overall budget.
Kareem Musa, Area Representative, Caribbean Shores: “This budget comes on the heels of an unprecedented attack on a Supreme Court Judge by none other than the Prime Minister. Mr.Speaker never before has a sitting leader of a country attacked a member of the judiciary in such a way, it reminds me of how Donald Trump would behave. And perhaps that is the reason why we are now seeing a sharp decrease in an already dismal budget for the judiciary from $9,584,656 in 2017 to now $8,976,000. That amounts to .76% of our overall budget. That is unacceptable for our judiciary. Mr.Speaker believe it or not that budget, that .76% that covers all of the magistrate’s courts across this country, all our family courts, all of the staff, the clerks, the messengers, all of the judges of the Supreme Court, it covers the court of appeal judges all of that Mr.Speaker and this government is only giving them $8 million dollars a year- that is atrocious. 76% of our overall budget and that is an entire arm of government because we have the executive, the legislative and the judiciary, an entire arm of government is getting .75%.”
Musa then turned to the allocation for the Attorney General’s Ministry which has seen an increase despite, what he says is a very poor performance over the past year.
Kareem Musa, Area Representative, Caribbean Shores: “The Attorney General’s Ministry has increased and I don’t think, this is kind of weird. Yes he has a healthy appetite but to increase his budget by $2 million dollars? Da how much food you could actually eat with all of that ? Madam Speaker despite this big jump in the budget for the attorney general’s ministry this budget once again speaks volumes about their performance. It’s hard to debate with this other side because the leader of the opposition I think mentioned that when it comes to food pantry, the south and west, zero dollars; when it comes to the Ministry of Housing zero dollars, zero houses. And then when it comes to the attorney general’s Ministry they’re acknowledging and celebrating their failure once again. In this budget book they confirm that they have only been winning 30% of all their cases. You imagine if any one of our children come home with a 30% grade? What is that ? 70% of cases are being won against the Government of Belize, that is atrocious, that is dismal, that is unacceptable. And you may think that this 30% that they’re winning you would think that it is inconsequential or irrelevant cases.”