The Prime Minister’s State of the Nation Address takes place each September as part of a ceremonial sitting of the House and Senate held on the steps of the New Administration Building in Belmopan. Since it’s inception in 1999, the event has been boycotted by the Opposition ... and this year was no exception. What was different is that while in the past Prime Minister Said Musa has used the opportunity to recount the past twelve months’ achievements and preview the coming year’s plans, this time he tallied the accomplishment’s of almost a full decade of P.U.P. rule ... with the implication that another five years term would be welcome. So if you were looking for the latest statistics, facts and figures, forget it: this year’s State of Nation was all about electoral politics. Here are some excerpts.
Prime Minister Said Musa
“As we head into our tenth year in government, we return to where we began: with you, the people. I am here to answer the question: did we make Belize a better place? Just think back, when they were in power the only investigations were against us. Today we pay for high price Commissions of Inquiry into our own government agencies. Their government just used to sweep wrongdoings under the carpet. Let’s be honest, this kind of open culture wasn’t always there; we made it happen. In 1998 people believed politicians controlled judges, today judges regularly discipline politicians. They are now independent, better paid and fearless. Before we took office, cruise tourism was a trickle, now it is a vibrant industry, that didn’t happen by itself. We courted it, we embraced it, we made it happen.[Applause from audience] The B.T.I.A. attacked us for it, but we had to stay the course. Cruise tourism brings jobs and foreign exchange that is critical for the economic stability of the Belize district and indeed of the country. If we don’t have a docking facility by 2009 cruise ships will bypass Belize. That must not happen, so long as we are the government, it will not happen. One or other of those two cruise ship projects is going to be built. You can choose to focus on the routine shortcomings of the health system or you can open your eyes and see that N.H.I. is giving thousands of Belizean families unprecedented access to quality, primary and specialized health care. Nothing is wrong with demanding more improvements in health. That is expected. But remember where we came from. One of the greatest joys any family anywhere can experience is the joy of owning your own home. Through the massive housing boom we sparked off, at least 10,000 families experienced that joy. Just take a drive through Belmopan. Drive through Caribbean Shores, Lake Independence, Maxboro or Los Lagos in the Belize district. Visit Santa Rita heights in Corozal or the housing estate in south San Pedro, Ambergris, or in San Ignacio. Visit any one of these places and then make your judgment on our housing legacy. The next phase of our housing program will be to provide housing to those who can’t afford to pay back more than $200 to $300 per month.”
“Did we make Belize a better place for you and your children? In judging us, remember not only when we fell short but also our great achievements. Weigh them fairly and objectively. Before you come to your judgment, think about these things. Think about the 10,000 families who experienced the joy of owning their own homes. Think about the Cultural explosion and imagine your child performing at the Bliss Centre for the Performing Arts. Think about the great freedoms you enjoy and the protection of independent judges who regularly rule against the government. Think of the free standardized textbooks and how much more can be done through the petroleum fund. Think about the benefits of National Health Insurance for you and your children. Think of the many jobs and opportunities already unleashed through tourism and how far we can go with it. Then ask yourself, ask yourselves: Do you want these things to continue? Do you want to deepen our democracy through an elected Senate and a Caribbean Court of Justice? If you do, you have to realize that these things won’t happen by talking. It won’t come along by pursuing a politics of hate and destruction. It only happens when you have a competent government. A government that thinks, plans and makes tough decisions. Belize is a beautiful country. We are living in a good country. Belizeans are blessed. We give thanks to God. Our country has great potential. We can unlock that potential and make Belize the envy of the region. But first we have to believe that we can. We have to believe in Belize.”
For the text of the full address please go to the government website: www.Belize.gov.bz.