Posted: Tuesday, March 26, 2019. 11:30 am CST.
Posted: Tuesday, March 26,2019. 11:29a.m. CST.
By Aaron Humes: It was not all doom and gloom from the Opposition People’s United Party during the Budget Debate so far.
Leader of the Opposition John Briceño, anticipating taking over from Prime Minister Dean Barrow after the next general election, presented his plans for a Belize which he and the P.U.P. leads.
Briceño reflected on the party’s budget consultation, saying that all he spoke to believe that Belize “(has) the necessary ingredients to make our country better. What is lacking in our current political climate however, is the will and the desire to seriously address the challenges that are hindering our development; challenges that begin with the fact that the Belizean people have lost trust and confidence in this UDP Government.”
Rubbishing temptations to refer to past scandals, Briceño and his colleagues say they are committed to a different kind of governance, focusing on national development, prioritizing investment, and listening and implementing constructive suggestion from all.
Economically, the P.U.P. aims for no less than six percent growth annually in gross domestic product; eliminating reverse discrimination against locally produced products in taxation and licensing; and deregulation of the agricultural/productive and tourism/real estate/construction including the Lands Department. Greater economic growth would in theory reduce the overall trade deficit by half in 10 years, cut the poverty rate in half in 10 years, create 8,000 jobs and enhance citizen security for all Belizeans.
The Lands Department is to be modernized and automated, including cutting out stamp duties and keeping taxes revenue neutral or increased.
Briceño emphasized a basic Bill of Rights including education, health care, land and housing, and employment, and by extension a streamlined and independently linked government system. He also promised greater participation in both labour and government for women and youth.
The Opposition Leader also paid tribute to elected mayors in Belize City (Bernard Wagner), Corozal (Rigo Vellos) and Orange Walk (Kevin Bernard) for their efforts in their first year in office. Briceño concluded that Belizeans were part of a “historic deception… from the lie about a mythical double sided machete chopping so much as the whiff of corruption to the bigger lie of a government for all…The PUP is ready to win and ready to lead and we look to the day when with the guidance of our Creator we can fulfill our promise to build a Belize that works for everyone.”
Today, Cayo South representative Julius Espat presented two further proposals: a Belize Youth Service Corps dedicated to breaking the cycle of youth violence and unemployment, and a Constituency Development Fund that allows constituents across the country to apply for constituency area projects to be approved by the National Assembly.
The Opposition Leader emphasized to Breaking Belize News that area representatives will not be allowed access to or control of the money. Instead, the area rep will set up a constituency committee that will direct request for projects. Then it goes to a National House committee to review and approve the requests.
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