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Michel Chebat: Budget does not match unprecedented times

Posted: Wednesday, March 25, 2020. 12:17 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: It did not take a week, says Senator Michel Chebat, for the COVID-19 crisis to render the current Budget unsuitable for our times.

But for the past 12 years, an over-focus on tourism and infrastructure has led to a crash in the former and the latter squeezing out the productive sector.

There has been little return from the utility companies such as Belize Water Services Limited (BWS), Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) and Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL), and customers deserve an ease in payments for at least the next three months, he said.

On the environment, Senator Chebat pointed out that $42 million was collected in environmental tax, but just $12,000 was budgeted for the continued restoration of the New River in Orange Walk, which suffered an attack of eutrophication last year that led to the killing of natural life in the waterway, and none for other rivers such as the Mopan and Macal in San Ignacio.

On housing, grants of 3,069 for small-scale housing improvements added up to just $33 per family, according to Chebat.

Overall, the Budget focuses more on physical infrastructure than on people, and ultimately is just numbers, but the people are facing much more outside the Senate: fear, anxiety, a loss of jobs, a health care system that is shaky and people without hope.

Chebat called on the economic czars to act “now” and follow the examples of Caye Caulker residents who have been packaging key items.


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