There were listening ears and curious minds at the Belize Adventist Junior College in Calcutta Village, Corozal District this morning, as the Leader of the Opposition Hon. John Briceno paid a special visit to address the students of the institution.

The People’s United Party leader spoke on a variety of key issues affecting the country at the moment including the economy, education, unemployment and the lack of opportunities for young people, and the budget and how it impacts young people.

Screen_Shot_2017-03-16_at_7.54.10_PMHonourable John Briceno- Leader of the Opposition People’s United Party

“This year’s budget will impact on how your generation benefits in the future for what we do today will have a direct effect tomorrow, if we have higher taxes then there will be less monies for your families to pay more of your education, if there is as we believe there will be a strong push to cut expenses then of course things like funds for scholarships or for our small farmers or to start a small business would be reduced or not available at all. Already we haring of an increase in environmental tax which means that we may have to pay more for some basic goods from our point of view we should never limit the resources for basic education and we should do our best to increase opportunities for you to get more access to higher education at the technical and professional levels. Our greatest resource is our human resource and so the best way to strengthen our development and build Belize is to give our young people access to education. Last year the government spends over 1.2 billion dollars most of which was collected from the taxes your parents paid, our Belizean economy is about 4 Billion dollars which we often refer to as GDP, Gross Domestic Product, so if all the goods and services that we operate in our country, our GDP is 4 Billion and of that the government is spending one quarter then the government is spending twenty five cents of every dollar generated in Belize, guys this is a lot of money but what is worst is that most of that money is not being spent on building Belize a lot of it is going to pay salaries yes but also millions are being badly spent on corrupt deals and foolish investments.”

Honourable John Briceno- Leader of the Opposition People’s United Party

“Programs like Restore Belize that should be directly helping the young people is failing, think about how much of the Petro Caribe funds government spent on what they called Christmas Cheer, Valentine Cheer and so on in three years the government spent close to half a billion dollars of Petro Caribe funds and it did not reduce poverty by as much as one single percent, currently almost half of our people live on less than ten dollars a day which is what is defined as poverty in a 4 billion dollar economy when 370,000 live, we have close to a 150,000 Belizeans living in poverty in 2017, the Prime Minister said unemployment is at 8% however, the Statistical Institute of Belize put unemployment over 11% but we believe it is closer to 14% and at 24% for our young population our young people in a few months thousands of you will be looking for a job and will have a hard time finding one.”

Hon. Briceno shared his vision for the country with the young audience, discussing the importance of positive character attributes and hardwork to move Belize in the direction it needs.

Honourable John Briceno- Leader of the Opposition People’s United Party

“When I come to places like this I see in you the next generation of entrepreneurs, I see in you individuals who want to build you own ladder instead of climbing someone else’s , I know that you have great ideas and I agree that you should be optimistic about the range of possibilities, good I also know that you refuse to be limited or constrain by politics or religion, gender or status but none of that optimism and open mindedness will lead to anything if you do not accept the simple fact that road to success takes work, headwork, hard work together with a positive attitude and outlook will serve you well and help you to dream even bigger, I like to tell people about my dream and my party’s plan to for our nation a plan to build a Belize that works for everyone, a plan that requires that each of us to think about our personal responsibility it is based on the believe that each of us must give as well as receive our only chance for success in Belize is if we include everyone.”

The next Prime Minister-in waiting also had a special message for the young. Unlike the Prime Minister whose only mention of young people in his budget speech was to bless them for they will inherit a nearly $4 billion debt, Briceno said young people must play a significant role in turning the country around.

Honourable John Briceno- Leader of the Opposition People’s United Party

“This is why I am here because I want you to be a part of the solution, I want you to have a real stake in our country and in your future, I want you to tell me what you would like to see changed or fix, you are being burdened with the debt and your parents are being burdened with the higher cost of living and higher taxes, the least we can do is to come and listen to you and respect your amazing talents and skills, now let me be clear, the challenges ahead will not be overcome with apathy or indifference the job of building this nation is not only for those of us in political leadership all of us must have a stake in the future, all of us must understand that our chance for success rest as much with you as it does with me together we must see Belize as it should be if we are to make it better.”

Honourable John Briceno- Leader of the Opposition People’s United Party

“Today also has to be about the catalyst for what we want Belize to be tomorrow, of course I have my own ideas about how we guild a Belize that works for everyone and a great deal of my idea starts with you, why, well think about it most of our people are young almost 55% of our population is like you, younger than 24 years old, we have the human resource capacity young enough, strong enough and creative enough to build Belize in such a way that we earn smart it means that we squeeze every dollar we can out of what we produce, what we produce must not be harmful to our environment and it must be done so that we must secure something for the next generation.”

The People’s United Party leader was accompanied by a number of local leaders including the area representative for Corozal South East Hon. Florencio Marin Jr., Corozal North’s David Castillo, Corozal South West’s Ramiro Ramirez and the Party’s Secretary General Linsford Castillo among others. The delegation also gave out tokens to students.

The People’s United Party leader has been on a tour of communities throughout Belize, with his last visit being in the Toledo District.

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