Posted: Monday, February 22, 2021. 4:30 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: In his weekly message to Belizeans, Prime Minister John Briceño says recovery, not only from the effects of COVID-19 but also from the ravages of his predecessors, has only just begun.
“This is our inherited starting point; this is what the UDP did to our country. But our Belizean spirit is strong; and your Government will face the hard work ahead of us, and together, we will overcome,” Briceño said.
There is the matter of dealing with past alleged corrupt acts such as those revealed at the first hearing of the Commission of Inquiry last Monday, where it was revealed by Financial Secretary Joseph Waight that the previous administration approved the sale of 112 Government-owned vehicles for approximately $2,600 each on average, a situation he called “beyond shameful.”
The P.M. also mentioned the collapse in personal income, rising unemployment and underemployment, and the bloated Public Service and debt-to-GDP ratio, not to mention the looming half-a-billion-dollar budget deficit. But Briceño counselled that we must reach out to each other, especially the least fortunate.
Among the “many positive results” of the first 100 days in office, says Briceño, are a “flattening
of the curve” of the COVID-19 pandemic here; amendment of legislation to strengthen the Public Accounts Committee; in agriculture, an aggressive promotion of the ‘Farm to Table’ policy; in national security, introducing innovation to the Police Department; finding markets for products in trade; in education, preparing for a safe re-opening of schools; and the economic recovery team is busy implementing the national strategy. Soon, the national COVID-19 vaccine plan will be implemented – as soon as the vaccines get here.
Briceño emphasized that these advances were made possible through consultation – starting before he took office with the various social partners, and continuing now with Budget consultations. A “respectful partnership,” he said, along with continuing to reach out to each other, will lead to week-by-week progress, with #planBelize as “the north star.”
There are plans for a formal press conference at a time and place to be determined.
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