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On Thursday and Friday of last week, members of the House of Representatives, took turns to debate the national budget and today, it was the turn of the 13 senators to do so. While Church Senator Ashley Rocke supported the budget alongside the UDP senators, the 13th Senator, Osmany Salas did not stating that the NGO community cannot support a budget that is not well prepared. And as expected, the opposition did not support the budget either.

 

Screen_Shot_2017-03-27_at_6.43.00_PMSenator Eamon Courtney – People’s United Party Representative


“Only person who is suffering from some severe state of illusion can say that the Belizean economy is bouncing back, the truth is Mr. President when a country is in a recession moving in a depression that is not bouncing back that is bouncing backwards Mr. President that is what we have here when an economy does not grow actually contract by nearly 1% that is not bouncing back Mr. President that is bouncing backwards.”


Lead Opposition Senator Eamon Courtenay referred back to his closing statement during last year’s budget debate and said nothing much has changed 3 hundred 65 days later. He affirmed that the economy has gotten worse under the UDP and posed the question “why”?


Senator Eamon Courtney – People’s United Party Representative


“We sold out to the bondholders Mr. President, this budget was drafted in New York presented to the Bondholders and approved by them before it came to this honorable Senate that is what happened and it was designed simply to appease the Bond holders and to get the agreement that the UDP are so proud of, that is what we have and we on this side do not support this budget because it does not advance the interest of Belize and Belizeans it is for the Bond Holders.”


According to Senator Courtenay the superbond renegotiation Statutory Instrument is illegal. He explains why.

 

Senator Eamon Courtney – People’s United Party Representative


“Statutory Instrument #25/2017 signed by the honorable Prime Minister on the 9th day of March coming into force on the 13th day of March that means it is in effect already and let me just start by saying this: and Mr. Attorney General can check it, this Statutory Instrument is illegal they are so hurry to bow down and  cow toe the Bond Holders they said they are doing it pursuant to section 23 of the Finance and Audit Reform Act check section 23 (3) of the Finance and Auditor Reform Act and it makes no provision for this Statutory Instrument, the minister of finance exercise his power under the wrong section of the law it is illegal but is worse than that Mr. President because we have to ask ourselves why is it that it has become necessary for us to do this and make no mistake about it it was not something that was voluntarily done it was something that was demanded, imposed by the Bond Holders by the masters in New York, they imposed this on the Prime Minister: listen to what it says: the minister shall lay before both houses of the National Assembly budget proposals that are projected to result in a primary surplus in each of the fiscal years 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 equal to at least 2% of Gross Domestic Product, suppose we have two catastrophic hurricanes next year, suppose we have catastrophic hurricanes the following year how can the Prime Minister sign a Statutory Instrument committing to do this for three years when he doesn’t know what the circumstances are going to be  is it that he signed because he knows that he won’t be around, this is something that is attempting to tie the hands of future parliaments of this country, it is the shackle that is being put on us by the Bond Holders but it continues, it says the minister shall seek to ensure that the ministry of finance cooperate with the IMF with its preparation of its annual article 4 consultation report for Belize and that the ministry facilitates the publication of the Associated IMF staff report well Senator Barnett can say we do this every day, every year the IMF comes and we cooperate with them as you said I already know that so why put it in a law, you know why lets read what it says on the side note: cooperation with the IMF required, could word for a standby agreement code words for the IMF dih come make no doubt about it this looks good but is not good Mr. President.”


At news time, the debate of the budget continues and we will bring you more highlights in tomorrow’s newscast.

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