Posted: Sunday, February 7, 2021. 3:49 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: Area representative for Mesopotamia, Moses “Shyne” Barrow, spoke with Breaking Belize News exclusively concerning the reaction to his innocuous questions to three Ministers of Government during Friday’s meeting of the House of Representatives.
The freshman area representative had differing reactions to the responses he got, but his overall impression is that “We need to stop living in the past… I’m tired of the same juvenile, petty politics – nobody wants to hear what happened in the previous administration; nobody wants to hear what happened to me when I was 19, 20 years ago; people want solutions to the problems currently affecting them.”
One of those issues is his question to Prime Minister John Briceno: “…What plan is in place to ensure COVID-19 unemployment relief fund and food assistance program continues for as long as [is] necessary?”
Barrow told us his constituents have complained that both programs have effectively stopped since November, and that the absence of transparency and accountability as seen in the regular statistical updates provided under the previous administration can only lead him to conclude that “nothing is happening, or worse, that corruption is happening, that politicization is happening.”
And that politicization is a real possibility, he continues, because the new administration has not restarted the COVID-19 National Oversight Committee of which the-now Prime Minister was co-chair while Leader of the Opposition, or the Task Force which operated the day-to-day decisions on COVID-19 management.
Representative Barrow made clear that his father, former Prime Minister Dean Barrow, was adamant about not politicizing the COVID-19 response, and refused to directly provide funds to area representatives or caretakers like him. While he lobbied for the proper distribution of funds and food not just for Mesopotamia but for all Belizeans who needed it, he could do no more, at least not officially.
It is therefore “an absolute lie” that the now-Prime Minister told on Friday, said Barrow, that he in any way directed COVID-19 relief or got any contracts from the UDP administration. He stayed out of the way of his uncle and incumbent Michael Finnegan and organized his own program of relief for constituents, from his own resources, and the audit which P.M. Briceno threatens will show otherwise, he said confidently, will highlight this truth.
Barrow calls on the Prime Minister and Minister of Human Development, Dolores Balderamos-Garcia, to provide the statistics as to who has applied for the COVID-19 relief program, who has received assistance and so on. He also pointed out that the Government cannot be as “bruk” as they claim when they have been able to scrounge funds for new vehicles, for road works, and even for a new water system in Sarteneja, Corozal – which he is happy residents there are getting.
In this time of emergency, Barrow emphasized, it is not enough for the new administration to simply lay blame on the old. They must either get on with the job, he said, or resign and let someone else take over. The questions on the agenda Barrow presented are typically read and answered at regular meetings of the House which Friday’s was; the January 8 meeting was a special sitting and so questions could not be taken there.
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