Speaker Of The House Signs MOU With FOPREL And SICA

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Laura Tucker Longsworth, travelled to El Salvador to p...

New International Flight Headed To Belize

There's a new international flight headed to Belize, this time coming from Minneapolis, Minnesota lo...

224 Farmers Graduate From Farmers Field School

This afternoon a special graduation ceremony was held for 224 cane farmers who participated in the S...

  • Speaker Of The House Signs MOU With FOPREL And SICA

    Friday, 07 September 2018 02:44
  • New International Flight Headed To Belize

    Friday, 07 September 2018 02:46
  • 224 Farmers Graduate From Farmers Field School

    Friday, 07 September 2018 03:09

Yesterday we brought to you part one of two of the national budget debate. And as we bring you the news tonight, the Budget Debate raged on in the sacred chambers of the National Assembly in Belmopan up until late this evening. All members of parliament from both sides of the House were given the opportunity to speak on the draft estimates for the year 2015 – 2016. It’s an important event because it is the only time that all parliamentarians will have any valid input on the allocations of money in every sector of the country. But most parliamentarians seemed to have little time for or interest in the actual budget, and on both days of debate, it was more about personalities, insults and some very long-winded monologues. Here is a collage of today’s presentations from both sides of the chambers.

 

Screen_Shot_2015-03-27_at_8.08.39_PMJose Abelardo Mai- Member for OW South


“Do you know how many times the terms like rice policy, strategic export policy, food security, livestock and corn were used? Zero. Does the government have any priorities here, Mister Speaker? I rest my case….that’s the way it is for the backbone of the Belizean economy and the sector with the highest foreign exchange earnings in this country. So you see, Mister Speaker, why I say I come to bury this budget because it contains nothing for rice producers, nothing for the grain producers, nothing for the beans producers who are struggling to market their product right now; and much less, anything for the powerless and emasculated, disrespected stepsons, the cane farmers of this country. Mister Speaker, there is no mention of any plans of programs that government will implement to generate more revenue to reduce the hundred and eighty-five million dollars budgetary deficit. How can we make decisions on priorities and results if the progress achievements and analysis for last year or worse yet for the last two years are not known? Mr. Speaker how can any Ministry measure without proper reporting. How can a budget be drafted without evaluating your success and lessons learnt? The budget is being debated today and the annual achievement reports are still in the making. I asked for the report many times and told them it is for the budget it is to help point out the weaknesses. Mr Speaker, nothing was allocated to boost the agro-productive sector from Petro Caribe. Why Mr Speaker? Is agriculture not important to Belize or to us in this Honourable House? 14 In 2014, agricultural exports including marine products, accounted for over $482 million or 79.7% of export revenues for Belize. In addition, primary agriculture, excluding manufacturing, contributed 13.8% to the GDP, and together with value adding, vertical integration and the demand for services agriculture creates, this sector delivers over 40% of the GDP. Therefore Mr. Speaker Agriculture is the foundation of Belize’s economy and that is a fact.”


Hugo Patt- Member for Corozal North


“During the time that he was the general manager of BMDC, BMDC was practically broke, quebrado, en la bankarota. When this U.D.P. administration took over BMDC in 2008, there was no depot in Orange Walk, there was no depot in Belize City and there was no depot in Cayo. Literally, there was no operation as it pertains to the BMDC and Mister Speaker, back then as is now; BMDC played a critical role with the rice farmers in the south. Now he is speaking about rice policies and rice vision and ways forward in which we can better improve the situation with the rice farmers. Why is it then that the member for Orange Walk South, during his eighteen years as general manager of BMDC, did not take the necessary steps to ensure a livelihood and a thriving industry for our rice farmers in the south? All of a sudden he knows and he knows better. That’s a shame on him. And most importantly of all, he is talking about bad administration and corruption in the Department of Agriculture. He is forgetting to tell the people of this nation and particularly to our agricultural people, our farmers, that during his tenure some of the most exorbitant salaries were being collected. That is something that he will not know and he would not want to tell, but that is something that is in the records, Mister Speaker.”


Julius Espat– Member for Cayo South


"That what we are presented with in this book Mr. Speaker, disguised as a budget, is useless and has absolutely no credibility. You see Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's continued use of supplementary appropriation bills and special warrants undermines the essence and the purpose of what a national budget should be. This is a continued abuse of the financial regulations of this country. In reality, uses this method of bypassing regulations to enable him to do his political spending. Clear examples of this are his Christmas Cheer program, his mother's day program and his back to school program. Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is managing this country comparable to a substance abuser - how a substance abuser would operate or behave. He has this economy totally addicted to an illegal substance and that illegal substance is called Petrocaribe. It is important that the nation understands how deceitful and how unlawful are the actions of the Prime Minister when dealing with the Petrocaribe loans from the beginning."


Michael Peyrefitte- Speaker of the House


"Remember the matter is in court, member."


Julius Espat– Member for Cayo South


"In essence Mr. Speaker, the loan agreement is contrary to the constitution and finance and audit reform act and is therefore void."


Honorable Dean Barrow- Prime Minister


"He seems to be arguing."


Michael Peyrefitte- Speaker of the House


"Yes, I told him about it earlier. That is almost the exact query in an application before the court."


Julius Espat– Member for Cayo South


"Mr. Speaker, I am just doing a summary. I have the right."


Michael Peyrefitte- Speaker of the House


"No, no. The matter is before the court. We agreed on that before you started. Member, you are free naturally to talk about Petrocaribe in that light, but you are now arguing your case in the National Assembly."


Julius Espat– Member for Cayo South


"No Mr. Speaker. The problem is, the signing of the agreement by the Deputy Prime Minister was illegal Mr. Speaker, because he didn't come to us, this honorable house."


Michael Peyrefitte- Speaker of the House


"That is before the court, member."


Julius Espat– Member for Cayo South


"But it's a fact. We can't hide it Mr. Speaker. This honorable house is the legislature that gives authority to the executive to be able to spend our money."


Honorable Dean Barrow- Prime Minister


"Mr. Speaker, again, on a point of order. We say the exact opposite, but you are right. This is a matter before the court."


Julius Espat– Member for Cayo South


"The act that he is proposing has not come yet."


Michael Peyrefitte- Speaker of the House


"But you are anticipating it. You will have a chance to debate that."

 

Julius Espat– Member for Cayo South


"No. there is a motion that was presented last two weeks Mr. Speaker. I am not hiding that fact. I have it here."

 

Michael Peyrefitte- Speaker of the House


"So, then what is the illegality of what you are talking about?"


Julius Espat– Member for Cayo South


"The illegality is that the government cannot spend money, cannot borrow money, cannot do anything that has to do with the people's money, if it doesn't come here for approval."


Michael Peyrefitte- Speaker of the House


"That is exactly before the court. I have seen the claim form. It is incumbent upon me to look upon the claim form. If you have seen the claim form."


Julius Espat– Member for Cayo South


"So, you are telling us that we cannot discuss Petrocaribe here at all?"


Michael Peyrefitte- Speaker of the House


"Not in the way you want to discuss it."


Julius Espat– Member for Cayo South


"In which way would you like us to discuss it?"


Michael Peyrefitte, Speaker of the House


"No. look.."


Julius Espat– Member for Cayo South


"Guide me Mr. Speaker. I am sure you would take my guidance. To put it to you then, you handcuffed yourself in the National Assembly when you took the matter to court. Mr. Speaker, due to the fact that the government is totally addicted to this Petrocaribe funds to finance their projects, he has done absolutely nothing else to help to drive this economy. The PM is his irrational exuberance, made the people understand in no uncertain terms, that the UDP administration is awash in money - in millions and millions of dollars. But Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister also made it clear, that such money was only for the benefit of those who voted UDP. Am I right or wrong Prime Minister? That is a fact and you can go back to the recording, because you know we have recordings now. And it seems to be a disease that both sides are getting the hit now. Remember, my neighbor and Mr. Castro - that just gives you a little going back in memory. I now have it a policy that anybody that meet with me, they leave their phones on the outside and my neighbor and I, we tend to leave the phone in the center of the street, so we don't really have a problem."


As is customary, the Prime Minister gets the last word at the budget debate. His presentation started at 6:30pm and took only fifteen minutes. As of 6:15, the debate waged on the passing of the Petrocaribe Loans Bill.

Share this post

This content has been locked. You can no longer post any comment.