Senators Debate General Revenue Appropriation (2023/2024) Bill,
Senators today debated the General Revenue Appropriation (2023/2024) Bill, 2023. The Prime Minister’s budget, entitled “Delivering on Plan Belize,” looks at the government’s past achievements and projects future goals. The government’s budget has been highly criticized by the United Democratic Party. Senator of Government Business, Eamon Courtenay, opened the debate, reminding the opposition senators of the Briceno Administration’s successes.
Eamon Courtenay, Senator for Government Business: “What we have before us are solid proposals for the upcoming year and in fact Madam President you will see that we have been and will continue to deliver on Plan Belize. You know Madam President the facts are stubborn things and the facts are clear. The Belizean economy grew by 12.4% in 2022 and we pay tribute and say thanks to the hundreds of thousands of good Belizeans both in the public as well as the private sector across the length and breadth of this beautiful jewel of ours who have worked tirelessly to ensure that we achieve that type of stellar economic growth. 12.4% that is a fact. According to the latest poverty assessment Madam President, Honourable Senators, 68,000 fewer Belizeans are poor. And whilst we acknowledge Madam President that there is a lot more to be done, the facts show that the People’s United Party Government led by Prime Minister John Briceño is in fact waging a war on poverty as promised in Plan Belize. 68,000 fewer Belizeans are poor that is a fact. Madam President I don’t think anyone who wishes to be fair can forget that last year we were able to fully restore to some 14,000 public officers who bore the sacrifice brought on by a combination of UDP mismanagement and the deleterious effects of COVID19, to restore their wages fully to over 14,000 public officers. We return to public officers that which was rightly theirs but which Madam President had to be suspended in the public interest. The restoration of wages to 14,000 public officers is a fact Madam President and the facts are stubborn. When the Briceño administration came to government we had made a pledge to raise the minimum wage to $5. Some of you senators will recall Senator Aldo Salazar when he was here repeatedly said when he’s driving to Belmopan he sees the sign that says $5 “why don’t do it?” Well Madam President unfortunately he is not here. The Prime Minister of Belize has fulfilled that commitment. We have delivered on our pledge to give hard working Belizeans a fair wage for an hour’s work but the job is not done Madam President. We must strive for the day when we can guarantee all workers at minimum a living wage, decent pay for honest work that is our objective.”
And responding to Senator Courtenay’s facts was Lead UDP Senator, Sheena Pitts. Senator Pitts accepted some of Courtenay’s facts but drew a distinction between fact and distorted information.