Posted: Thursday, January 3, 2019. 11:44 am CST.
Posted: Thursday, January 3, 2019. 11:09 a.m. CST.
Opposition Leader’s New Year’s Message
We greet you this New Year’s Day wishing for you and your family good health and prosperity.
Each New Year comes with the hope for the betterment of all our lives.
So my wish for everyone is a 2019 filled with new possibilities where we can see personal growth and betterment for our families, communities, our nation and ourselves.
The challenges we faced last year were many.
Our economy grew by a miserable one percent, which meant that we were unable to do anything to address increasing poverty and inequality in our nation.
The cost of fuel remains too high and is affecting our producers.
Government’s refusal to work with the productive sector is hurting our agro productive industry.
The high cost of fuel, which affects everything, caused the cost of basic goods and services to remain higher than average Belizeans can afford.
And our farmers continue to struggle to get their products to the factory due to the horrible conditions of our feeder roads.
The immediate effect of a slow economy is a weak investment climate, no confidence and most important, increasing crime.
As it relates to the social state of our nation, once again we had a very violent year.
To date there have been 143 murders and about 40 Belizeans are missing.
It is apparent that our government has no real solution to solving crime.
Nowhere was this more evident than in September when the UDP declared a state of emergency on the people of South Side Belize City, which did not result in any lasting peace.
While Belizeans continue to believe in the rule of law, our confidence continues to be eroded by a UDP administration that has been unable to secure convictions, unable to stem the increasing number of drug planes landing all over the country and unable to develop a long term plan to reduce crime.
Of special concern are the numbers of children who were killed or suffered sexual assaults or abuse.
Our children are precious and it is a national disgrace whenever one of our innocent children are killed or hurt.
As well too many Belizean women are living in abusive relationships and too many died violent deaths in 2018.
Violence against women and children is wrong and we condemn it in the strongest terms.
A compassionate government cannot overlook these social ills for it is leading us on a fast track to a culture of barbarism.
In terms of governance, the disregard for the rule of law by this UDP administration has caused us to be condemned as a nation that engages in human trafficking.
Corruption in government continues and we are yet to see any progress towards the implementation of any of the regulations set out in the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.
Today bloated contracts continue to be issued to UDP cronies even after the scandals resulting from the overpriced rehabilitation of Faber’s Road, the broken up Lake Independence Boulevard, the crumbling highway through Orange Walk Town; the sinking Belize City Municipal Airstrip and the unsafely built Caye Caulker Air Strip.
Our international ranking has again gone down with respect to the cost of doing business in Belize and this UDP Administration continues to change legislation to suit their personal agendas.
All of this combined with the blatant wreaking of our judiciary, low conviction rates and this UDP Administration’s continuing practice of changing legislation to suit personal interests has added to a growing culture of corruption and nepotism in our nation.
Last June we saw the commencement of the re-registration exercise, which was supposed to improve the integrity of our electoral process.
This exercise was mired in inefficiencies, especially at the vital statistics department, where even today the backlog of applications for birth certificates and other documents are causing thousands of Belizean voters to be disenfranchised.
This is occurring at a time when Belizeans are being asked to get all the facts so that they can participate in the upcoming referendum on whether or not to submit Guatemala’s unfounded claim to the International Court of Justice.
Government’s failure to show real leadership in this process has been of great concern to many Belizeans.
In our own Party I have been engaged in a listening tour where our supporters have been expressing grave concerns over a number of issues including the Government’s handling of the education campaign; the failure of the UDP to agree with Guatemala on a protocol for the Sarstoon and the failure of the foreign minister to properly deal with the Guatemalans.
Because of this our supporters feel that we should not proceed to a referendum until these matters are properly addressed.
So we start the New Year with much anxiety, our economy remains fragile, our Government ineffective when it comes to real solutions and our people are living in fear because of the continued violence and overall uncertainty.
In the PUP we believe that we can do better than the poor leadership and performance we see from this divided UDP Administration.
We also believe that the New Year gives us all an opportunity to start anew.
We will not give up, we will continue to work on our plans and prepare our Party to get back to Belmopan so we can work for the betterment of all our people.
Already our city and town councils in Belize City, Orange Walk and Corozal are working hard every day to carry out their duties effectively, despite the obvious lack of cooperation from the UDP Administration.
All three councils remain committed and dedicated to working for the improvement of their respective city and towns.
This year our villages will hold elections.
Our leaders in the rural communities will work with supporters to seek candidates who care for the people in their villages, bring positive change and work to improve the lives of our people living in the rural communities.
The PUP has a proud history of service to our nation.
We see it as our duty to support those who stand up for Belize.
This is why we supported the BNTU in their ongoing collective bargaining negotiations.
We support the efforts of the Public Service Union to get back their Belmopan Headquarters after the illegal sale by the UDP Belmopan City Council.
Our parliamentarians in the House and Senate all worked hard to make the government accountable for their mismanagement and corruption.
We will continue this important work.
My fellow Belizeans, 2019 finds us with many of the same challenges of last year: too much poverty, too much corruption, too much incompetence in government and not enough solutions to the problems that hinder our national development.
Still, we must not despair, together we can work to restore our national dignity, put people first again and build a Belize that works for everyone.
For sure serving as the Leader of the People’s United Party is a great privilege.
This job gives me the chance to meet and work with some of the best and most talented people.
It also challenges me to keep working harder with other leaders in our party to build a nation that is more caring and more about the improvement of all Belizeans, particularly the poorest among us. Once again I renew my commitment to work hard every day for our Party and nation.
May the blessings of our Creator be upon our nation and people and may 2019 be the year of health and happiness for everyone.
Happy New Year!
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