Mid-morning yesterday saw the two main political parties gather their standard bearers and some supporters as they launched their manifestos for the upcoming governing term, 2015 – 2020. For the main opposition party, PUP, a 4-page print document, held promises ranging from education to housing and health with perhaps the most intriguing part of the document being the plan to abolish income tax for the working class and the lowering of the General Sales Tax from twelve and a half percent to ten percent. It is quite a hefty promise to be made considering that they have been the ones lashing out at the Barrow administration for the level of debt that the country is in and the lack of investor confidence that the PUP says came as a result of Barrow’s governance. We found it interesting that these promises are being made at a time when Fonseca may still not have a concise understanding as to what the country’s current financial situation is and so, we asked him how he can present such promises to the Belizean people.
“There has to be an agenda; a Government in place that is focused on export-led growth; there has to be a Government in place that is serious about tax reform. The UDP has been talking about it for seven and a half years and have done nothing and (3) there has to be a Government in place that is focused on working with investors both domestic and foreign. We have over half a billion dollars in the local banking sector and the investors, the people in the business community in Belize do not want to invest under this UDP government, so there will be an unleashing of investment under the PUP Government that will grow the economy and create the foundation and environment to provide all of these commitments.”
And while the PUP was riling up its supporters with the theme, Power to the People, on the other side of the old capital, the United Democratic Party was unveiling its forty page manifesto that went more in depth on their plans for the next term should they be elected. Those plans ranged from land policies, housing, water management, tourism, national security, health and education, among other commitments. In total there were forty four commitments for the next five year period. Doug Singh, who sits on the Policy and Planning Committee for the United Democratic Party told the audience yesterday that their manifesto is the result of countrywide consultations on various issues.
“The document that we are presenting today is the result of consultation at the private sector forum, focus groups and various other groups that represent all sectors and demographics of Belize. It is truly a product worthy of all stake holders, the Belizean People. This is the largest manifesto ever produced by the United Democratic Party. It is 40 compact pages of the highlights of our Government. It is a true demonstration that we have kept the promises that we made to Belizeans in 2008 and 2012 but it is so much more than that. It is about building on our successes of the last two terms, about creating the environment that ensures a social safety net for Belizeans and at the same time create an atmosphere where Belize will be easy to do business in. One that attracts investors and creates jobs. One that means prosperity for all Belizeans and one that is people focused and business driven.”
An e-copy of the manifestos is now available online.