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Since Thursday of last week when the Budget debate before the House of Representatives began, we’ve been covering the presentations by the area representatives as both side laid out their reasons for supporting or opposing the budget. We’ve ended up with hours and hours of speeches, and while we can’t show it all, tonight we do have more excerpts of the presentations.

Screen_Shot_2017-03-28_at_8.09.24_PMHonourable Jose Abelardo Mai, Member, Orange Walk South

“We warned Madame Speaker repeatedly time after time the perilous implication of not investing and expanding our economy, in order to increase jobs productivity, incomes and overall economic growth instead of listening and correcting their dirty selves Mr. Speaker they danced to the tune of Petro Caribe role it, they danced and wined Petro Caribe role it they ignored our advice it fell on deft ears and now they come crying to the Belizean public saying they are broke and expect that the Belizean people to accept them like the story of the prodigal son instead what we observed over the last year was an unprecedented squandering of public funds on project with little or no economic return or value for improving the quality of life for the person on the streets, the evidence is clear Mr. Speaker, nine years in government 9 Billion spent and we still have 50% of the people living in poverty.”

Screen_Shot_2017-03-28_at_8.09.31_PMHonourable Elodio Aragon, Member, Orange Walk East

“I have the confidence on the people of Belize that they will make the right decision always, I heard earlier this morning they say uno win election because uno buy the elections, Madam Speaker, this country I believe in this country I believe they always make the right decisions, and they will never be sold.  Madam Speaker I only want to say that this country within the last nine years that we have been here is moving forward with the United Democratic Party and anybody who is out there who understands the issues Madam Speaker will know that it is only under this UDP government that we move and make things happen, they talk about the sugar roads, the assistance they have gotten Madam Speaker when the UDP were in power they never did anything as giving money for the sugar road so it’s the UDP who started this.”

Screen_Shot_2017-03-28_at_8.10.27_PMHonourable Rodwell Ferguson, Member, Stann Creek West

“That this 2017 budget is bogus and it is a pathetic intent of this Prime Minister to try to pull a hole over the eye of the ordinary Belizean man and woman, while we anticipated an increase in taxes primarily GST and Business Tax what we have gotten is a UDP administration that has taken us fully right back to the Esquivel administration, the Prime Minister and his Cabinet Madam Speaker have outdone Esquivel 15% VAT by introducing an increase in environmental tax from 2% to 3% with GST at 12.5% and to that the 3% on environmental tax we end up with a 15.5% which is more than the Esquivel Killer VAT we know this Prime Minister is trying to realize an additional 18 million dollars in taxes and is even in a 3% surplus of GDP, Madam Speaker the Prime Minister and his government has caused the depletion and his vigorous campaign aiming at the middle class economy, it is the middle class that is going to foot these taxes at the rate that we are going our country will be left with only two classes the very rich and the very poor.”

Screen_Shot_2017-03-28_at_8.09.45_PMHonourable Frank “Papa” Mena, Member, Dangriga

“People are ready and willing to invest in the South, Mr. Speaker, ready and willing to place their confidence in the leadership of the Rt. Honorable Dean Oliver Barrow and the UDP Administration as we lead our country to this bold Belizean recovery.”

Honourable Frank “Papa” Mena, Member, Dangriga

“But this is not all Mr. Speaker, just since I address this house last year my people have seen the completion and the launch of a new and improved Karl Ramos stadium, a stadium that my own friend Keewee would have seen so proud to see bearing his name that his brother Wadee would have been proud to salute, the Ramos brother aware the proud inheritors of our TV Ramos heritage and it would have been equally delighted to see the rise of the brand new sport and multipurpose center near the drums of our  father monument as you enter culture capital and Mr. Speaker that has been in plan from the Pope was an altar boy, long time, and the improvements of our other sporting facilities, the housing assistance provided to those most affected by the last season’s natural disaster and now the food pantry 200 families benefiting from the food pantry that just have been introduced to Dangriga, program extended to those I need this year offering a helping hand to our brother and sisters while they reestablish a firm footing for themselves once again and that no politics play in that PUP and UDP in that, some PUP come in their shirt because hungry is for all of us so we no play with that.”

Screen_Shot_2017-03-28_at_8.09.52_PMHonourable Kareem Musa, Member, Caribbean Shores

“This budget Madam Speaker, is what you would call a hit and run budget, the Prime Minister has slammed our economy into a brick wall and now he has all plans of abandoning the scene of this train wreck after he captained one of the most fiscally unsustainable spending sprees that has resulted in increased poverty throughout this country while at the same time unjustly enriching many of his family and close friends, it reminds me Madam Speaker, when that UDP politician my predecessor once said it is so easy to spend the money but it is hard to pay it back.”

Honourable Kareem Musa, Member, Caribbean Shores

“Madam Speaker this is a straight up hard times budget, Madam Speaker the beautiful constituency of Caribbean Shores that I so proudly represent is not happy with this administration, this budget is extremely concerning to my people, because it will affect their standard of living in a very direct way, this budget is a direct assault and frontal attack by this government on an already shrinking middle class, hundreds of households an thousands of my constituents will be affected because they will get a short 12.5% increase in their electricity bill, when they put in fuel in their vehicles Madam speaker they will feel the raft of this UDP administration, with the rise of environmental tax to 3% we all know what is going to happen to the goods on the shelves when my constituents go to the supermarket and they walk away with only about two to three items having paid fifty dollars trust me when I say that they will remember the face of the man who came to punishment because of his corruption, Madam Speaker this Prime Minister will go down in history as having destroyed the Belizean middle class.”

Honourable Omar Figueroa, Member, Cayo North

“Listening on the other side makes us wonder whether we are living in the same country they present a picture like the honorable of Mesop said of gloom and doom as if nothing productive or constructive is happening in this country.”


Screen_Shot_2017-03-28_at_8.10.12_PMHonourable Michael Finnegan, Member, Mesopotamia

“I stand here supporting the budget presented by the Prime Minister, on behalf of the people of the Mesopotamia Division we are satisfied with the performance of our government, we are satisfied of the performance of the Prime Minister, we are satisfied with the direction the country is going as I have said earlier we are made of flesh and we all fall short of the glory of god and mistakes will be there and we acknowledge when mistakes are made but we will compliment and applaud the Prime Minister and the government for the good work he has done and will continue to do.”

There were also statements on major issues such as re-registration, the ICJ, climate change and crime.

Honourable Omar Figueroa, Member, Cayo North

“Climate change has been a reality that we readily observe through temporal shifts in the start and end of the dry and rainy seasons and in the increase of extreme weather events such as draughts and floods that together have devastating impacts on agriculture, forest, urban and rural infrastructure, in this coming fiscal year my ministry will be coordinating with other ministries in efforts to implement the national climate change strategy and action plan which encompasses a broad suit of sectoral strategies aimed at building resilience to the hanging climate, further more Madam Speaker, with the signing of the forest agreement this past year in New York the government demonstrated its commitment to do all it can to assist our people to better adopt to the adverse effects of climate change, in an effort Madam Speaker, to increase awareness of measures we can take to mitigate climate change I am pleased to report that a memorandum of understanding has been established with the solar head of state non-profit organization to put solar panels on the roof of the administration building this symbolic initiative will serve to demonstrate the benefits of renewable energy and the potential for replacing other sources of energy which contribute carbon emissions into the atmosphere even with our relative small carbon footprint on the global scale we too can play our role in reducing the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere and thus help to mitigate against climate change, Madam Speaker as a signatory to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate change Belize needs to reports its progress under the convention every four years in this upcoming fiscal year a Belize 1.8 million dollar grant aid project will fund the preparation of Belize’s fourth national communication to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change the objective of the Fourth National Communication Project is to assist the country of Belize in meeting its reporting requirements under Article 12 of the Convention through the strengthening of technical and institutional capacities supporting Climate Change monitoring and reporting activities this project will commence during the first quarter of 2017 and is expected to be complete within a few years.”

Honourable Kareem Musa, Member, Caribbean Shores

“I must record my utmost disappointment that after twenty long years there is still no money being allocated for the re-registration exercise despite the fact that the law is clear, Madam Speaker, that it must be done before July 1st 2017, as justification for this failure I heard the Prime Minister quote an exorbitant 20 million dollar cost when he knows full well that his administration conducted a reregistration exercise in 1997 for only 3 million dollars, something is incredibly wrong Mr. Prime Minister if you can find 13 million dollars to build one round about at the entrance of Belmopan City but you can’t find 5 million dollars to update our electoral rules.”

Honorable Rodwell Ferguson, Member, Stann Creek West

“I will not go to the ICJ and vote a yes once we have the same Foreign Minister because over the last couple weeks some remarks were made were he said we are squatting and that we don’t have no border so when we go to the ICJ and go on the witness stand I will say judge you determine what the borers of Belize will be so if he said it will be at Sibun then Stann Creek and PG will be a part of Guatemala and I am not with that.”

Honourable Elodio Aragon, Member, Orange Walk East

“Crime is a national issue of concern for all and I know that the problem is not a problem that is easily solve, the problem that we are facing right now in terms of gang and gun related crime is a problem and a serious concern citizenry especially in Belize City and I know that this problem did not come about just yesterday it is a problem that has grown in this nation that requires a lot of work for us to correct this measure and it will not be done overnight and I ask Belize to bear with the Belize Police Department and the ministry as we continue to forge the kind of strategies, the kind of effective action that will impact on crime in Belize.”

Tomorrow we’ll have a bit more on the remarks at the House budget.

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