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Prime Minister: “Belize is back!” as Budget passes House of Representatives

Posted: Friday, March 24, 2023. 8:36 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The General Revenue and Appropriation Bill, 2023-24, was passed this evening at the stroke of 5 p.m. after Prime Minister and Minister of Finance John Briceño wrapped up an unprecedented three days of debate.

“In two years, there has been a resurgence in investor confidence; a resurgence of Belizean talent in arts and culture. Belize is back! Our people are back! We are a nation rising, and together, with the grace of God, we will continue to move forward, we will continue to do extra and we will continue to deliver on #planbelize,” is how the P.M. concluded the debate.

But he started with an acknowledgement of the people of Orange Walk Central – who he mentioned he would be representing for 30 years as of the end of June this year.

As much as he may disagree with them, the Prime Minister nonetheless thanked both Government and Opposition for expressing support or discontent as part of “the biggest event on the parliamentary calendar,” and that debate should be ‘lively and responsive’ to develop a sustainable democracy in what is an annual exercise – the member for Queen’s Square aside who hasn’t shown up to Belmopan since she was sworn in.

But as for disagreements, the P.M. pilloried his opposite number, saying, “What you see is what you get – nada, zero,” adding that the National Assembly is not a place to entertain as one would in New York City and Hollywood.

The Prime Minister dismissed the Opposition Leader’s performance as “unmemorable and lackluster,” and called him “unprepared, with ill-conceived pronouncements…a poor excuse for a politician …[and] a poor excuse for a leader of a mass party.” After Patrick Faber’s performance in 2021 and his own last year, the P.M. claimed he had managed to “sink below” even that.

The P.M. set to responding to the ‘mistruths’ presented by the Opposition, reminding that average growth in gross domestic product at 13.8 percent in just two years far outpaced the ‘tepid’ growth leading up to contraction in 2019 and COVID-induced depression in 2020.

Foreign direct investment net flows stood at $250 million in 2021, increased to $265 million last year and is projected to increase this year and stood at 45 percent more than where it was in 2019.

And as for the bugaboo of infrastructure, the $194 million figure for infrastructure is for projects not fully funded or completed by the previous administration, including the Caracol Road, Coastal Road, Sarteneja Road and others, “due to capacity constraints” to quote former Prime Minister Dean Barrow – which his successor says really means screw-ups among those he led.

 

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