Last night we told you that the Belizean economy had contracted slightly in the first three months of 2013 – registering point-5 per cent (.5%) negative growth. That’s quite surprising after 2012 showed very strong growth of 6.5%. But no one was more surprised than the Prime Minister – who was away and hadn’t heard the news and was caught off guard by it when we asked him about it today at the airport:….

Jules Vasquez
"The Statistical Institute of Belize released the first quarter figures yesterday and it shows that there is in fact negative growth in the GDP. That the economy had negative growth of 0.5% - it's very marginal negative growth but you had projected 2 - 2.5%. Are you aware of this?"

Hon. Dean Barrow - Prime Minister of Belize
"No I wasn't - I would have to examine that closely, that doesn't sound as if it's anything that we would have been expecting. My sense that the economy is humming along so I really would need to see the details of that analysis."

Jules Vasquez
"It sites a sharp down-turn in Citrus 35-40% and it also sites a down-turn in Bananas and in the electricity industry because...."

Hon. Dean Barrow
"This is the first quarter of the calendar year?"

Jules Vasquez
"Yes, 2013 - the first three months of 2013."

Hon. Dean Barrow
"Down-turn in citrus, banana? Perhaps citrus, I wasn't aware of any down turn in Bananas. But I can't quarrel with the statistical institute of Belize especially since I haven't seen the data."

Jules Vasquez
"How does this bode to the year end what you had projected to be 2.5% growth and more over the fact that the teachers and the public officers still want 30%."

Hon. Dean Barrow
"First of all I wouldn't worry too much about the first quarter results pre-staging a similar end of year position. For one over powering reason, the government's infrastructure stimulus program has not yet gotten started but there's no doubt that by year's end we would have spent a considerable amount of money on this infrastructure lift. I wouldn't be alarmed - I would be concerned because I wouldn't have expected negative growth but I wouldn't be alarmed because there are all sorts of things that are going to happen."

Channel 7