Prime Minister Delivers State of the Nation Address
09/18/06 08:21 PM
09/18/06 08:21 PM
Joined: Oct 1999
PRIME MINISTER DELIVERS STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS
September 18, 2006
Prime Minister Said Musa delivered his state of the nation address today. Prime Minister Musa said this past year the performance of the Belizean productive sector continues to be good.
Prime Minister Said Musa:
“Sugar earnings rebounded impressively the sugar cane crop contributed to a twenty three percent growth in delivery to one million one hundred and twenty three thousand four hundred and sixty nine long tons. Citrus concentrate remains the top expert commodity with earnings of ninety two point three million dollars, banana production recorded a slight decline on the other hand the production of papaya has increased by seven point three percent to thirty four thousand and seventeen tons. The output of the electricity and water sub sectors expanded by twenty seven point four percent, the tourism sector continue to be vibrant with stay over visitors increasing by five point one percent to a hundred and fifteen thousand three hundred and fifty four in the first five months of the year and overall tourist expenditure rising not with standing a decline in the number of cruise ship port calls caused by an unusual active hurricane season in 2005. The current account of the external balance of payment registered at substantial improvement emerging from a half year deficit of a hundred and forty two million in 2005 to a small surplus in 2006. Domestic export grew by thirty point one percent to three hundred and seventy four point two million dollars as the fledgling petroleum industry brought in sixty four million in sales total export increased to four hundred and twelve point eight million dollars with a significant increase in re exports from the Corozal Free zone. The improvements in the visible trade position was re enforced by impressive growth in net receipts for services which soared by seventy six percent to two hundred and forty five point nine million dollars with tourism accounting for a substantial part of this.”
Prime Minister Musa then spoke of the country’s fiscal performance.
Prime Minister Said Musa:
“At the end of the first quarter of the 2006/2007 financial year Government recorded a primary surplus of twenty two point seven million dollars. Overall deficit was reduced to almost nine percent of GDP in the previous year to three and a half percent of GDP. By any account this was an impressive turn around, fiscal discipline, tight expenditure control and public finance reform measures have strengthened our economic fundamentals putting Belize on a more solid foundation of economic stability. At the same time we have maintained an environment conducive to private sector and jobs most of the new private investments were in tourism, agro industry, hydro electricity, expansion of the Phillip Goldson International Airport, real estate developments and oil exploration. The Fisheries department contributes significantly to Belize’s economy with export earnings in 2005 valued at some sixty million dollars in aqua culture farm shrimp and capture fisheries respectively.”
Prime Minister Musa said over the past two years Government has been implementing a comprehensive package of fiscal monitoring and financial sector reform.
Prime Minister Said Musa:
“This has resulted in significant reduction of the overall deficit the foreign financial gap of 2006 is largely closed. As part of our firm commitment the fiscal imbalance sustainability in a credible medium term macro economic frame work we intend to stay the course significantly reducing the debt burden and building up the country’s reserves. We are now engage in a debt rearrangement constructed by dialogue with private creditors. We will do what is necessary to protect Belize’s currency peg while maintaining the prospects with continued lone term economic growth and employment.”
Prime Minister Musa said over the past two years Government has been implementing a comprehensive package of fiscal monitoring and financial sector reform. Prime Minister Musa said we are a nation committed to education.
Prime Minister Said Musa:
“Here in Belize there are some eighty seven thousand students enrolled in an educational institution from Pre School to University. Education accounts for o hundred and twenty two million dollars of the recurrent budget a further eighteen point three million is allocated to the capital education budget. This last year we witness a dramatic shift from towards technical and vocational education with the completion of the new IT-VET Institutions in the Stann Creek, Cayo, Orange Walk and Corozal Districts. This major investment of forty million dollars with loan funding from the Caribbean Development Bank is a clear recognition by this Government that our prospects for future growth are directly linked to our capacity to embrace science, technology and vocational skills training.”
The Prime Minister said over these past 25 years since Independence Belize has been through significant change of tremendous growth and development.
Prime Minister Said Musa:
" Our people have far greater access to education, home ownership, health care, and job opportunities than ever before. New and modern infrastructure connects all regions of our country and remote villages to towns and cities. More than 80% of our country has access to clean water and a stable supply of electricity. Six new water system recently completed with 5 more systems near completion. Telecommunications have advanced to a world class standard. At the same time we are confronted by serious socioeconomic challenges. Persistent poverty in the midst of growing prosperity, freedom from want for those living at the margin of society is still our great challenge, the growing materialism and the obsession with instant gratification. There is also a hunger of the spirit an hunger for meaning in our lives, the solution to crime and violence and drug and alcohol abuse, human trafficking, HIV/AIDS, domestic violence and child abuse are multidimensional la and order and national security must be maintained and the Police and the Belize Defence Force deserve our highest commendation and support for the work they do in crime prevention and crime control.”
Prime Minister Said Musa.
Re: Prime Minister Delivers State of the Nation Address
09/19/06 10:10 PM
09/19/06 10:10 PM
Joined: Oct 1999
heere's the long version
Office of the Prime Minister
STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS - Rt. Hon. Said Musa, Prime Minister of Belize
Belmopan - 18 September, 2006
A NATION ALIVE, A PEOPLE WITH PRIDE, BELIZE AT 25
At a time when the notion of a global clash of cultures is resonating so
strongly around the world, the nation of Belize at the commemoration of its
25th Anniversary of Independence is alive, rich in its diversity,
successfully confronting the challenge of how to build national unity.
As a people we have been finding answers to the old questions of how best
to manage and mitigate conflict over language, religion, ethnicity and
inequality. From the beginning of the peaceful constructive Belizean
revolution, one of the fundamental goals was to forge a national identity.
Today even as we celebrate and delight in our cultural diversity we are
first and foremost Belizeans.
We have come a long way. Our mind imbues the democratic process. Our heart
beats with social justice - our soul cherishes treasures of the spirit.
As we review our many accomplishments as a people, it is now beyond
question that Belizeans have risen to the challenge to be a nation. Our
goal now is to sustain this growth of our nation and to spread the fruits
of development for the benefit of all.
This past year the performance of the Belizean productive sector continues
to be good. Sugar earnings rebounded impressively. The sugar cane crop
contributed to a 26.3% growth in deliveries to 1,173,469 long tons. Citrus
concentrate remained the top export commodity with earnings of $92.3
million. Banana production registered a slight decline. On the other hand,
the production of papayas has increased by 7.3% to 34,417 pounds.
The output of the electricity and water subsectors expanded by 27.4%. The
tourism sector continued to be vibrant with stay-over visitors increasing
by 5.1% to 115,354 in the first five months of the year and overall tourist
expenditure rising notwithstanding a decline in the number of cruise ship
port calls caused by an unusually active hurricane season in 2005.
The current account of the external balance of payments registered a
substantial improvement emerging from a half-year deficit of $142 million
in 2005 to a small surplus in 2006.
Domestic exports grew by 30.1% to $374.2 million as the fledgling petroleum
industry brought in $54 million in sales. Total exports increased to $412.8
million with a significant increase in re-exports from the Corozal Free
Zone. The improvements in the visible trade position were reinforced by
impressive growth in net receipts for services which soared by 76% to
$245.9 million with tourism accounting for a substantial part of this.
At the end of the first quarter of the 2006/07 financial year, Government
recorded a primary surplus of $22.7 million. The overall deficit was
reduced from almost 9% of GDP in the previous year to 3 1/2% of GDP. By any
account this was an impressive turnaround.
Fiscal discipline, tight expenditure control and public finance reform
measures have strengthened our economic fundamentals, putting Belize on a
more solid foundation of economic stability. At the same time we have
maintained an environment conducive to private sector investment and jobs.
Most of the new private investments were in tourism, agro-industry,
hydro-electricity, expansion of the Phillip Goldson International Airport,
real estate development and oil exploration.
The Fisheries Sector continued to contribute significantly to Belize's
economy with export earnings in 2005 valued at some $60 million in
aquaculture (farmed shrimp) and capture fisheries respectively. This sector
provided employment to 2,026 fishermen and over 1,182 processing plant
workers. Lobster production has been fairly stable over the past ten years,
generating some $14 million last year. Conch production was up generating
some $7.75 million.
Tilapia was a new export product with excellent results last year.
Production is expected to reach 4,000 metric tons per annum with an
external value of $12 million as the company goes into full production
capacity. The aquaculture sector is further expanding into the cage culture
of marine species such as cobia. Two companies are scheduled to start
production by the last quarter of this year.
The Fisheries Department, working along with the two major fishing
co-operatives and the Nova Company, is working on a pilot project to extend
this cage farming technology to our fisher folk to alleviate pressures on
world stocks and diversify the productive capacity of our marine resource
industry. The Inter-American Development Bank has shown interest in
providing the necessary funding for training and design of the facilities.
The increasing global demand for fishing commodities with the depletion of
fish stocks in the seas and oceans is expected to be absorbed by the growth
of the Aquaculture Sector. Belize must stay ahead of the curve if we are to
protect the livelihoods of our fishers and the sustainability of the
Inflation and Unemployment
In May of this year the annual inflation stood at 4.1%. While the major
commodities were affected, the largest increase in prices was in the
transport and communications sector linked to the higher acquisition cost
of fuel. The rate of unemployment fell from 11% to 9.4%. The numbers of
employed persons rose by 2.3% to approximately 101,000. Sad to say however
many low income persons recently lost their jobs in the sanitation section
of the municipal councils. Government is doing all that is possible,
despite financial constraints, to find alternative jobs for these
Public Sector Debt
Over the past two years our Government has been implementing a
comprehensive package of fiscal, monetary and financial sector reforms.
This has resulted in a substantial reduction of the overall deficit. The
foreign financing gap for 2006 is largely closed.
As part of our firm commitment to fiscal and balance of payments
sustainability in a credible medium-term macroeconomic framework we intend
to stay the course significantly reducing the debt burden and building up
the country's reserves.
We are now engaged in a debt rearrangement constructive dialogue with
private creditors. We will do what is necessary to protect Belize's
currency peg while maintaining the prospects for continued long term
economic growth and employment.
Since 1998 the Government of Belize facilitated investments of $852 million
and the creation of over 9,300 new jobs by 153 new investments through its
development concession programme.
In 2006 much progress was made under our cooperation programme with the
European Union. The Belize Rural Development Programme (BRDP) was launched
with the contracting of the Project Management Unit. The total value of
this project, including Government's counterpart, is some $20 million.
Improving the quality of life and the livelihoods of our small farmers and
rural communities is high on our agenda.
In May this year, Cabinet agreed to reallocate a minimum of 50% to rural
development from EU funding under the banana support programme. Over the
next five years some $16 million will be invested in social infrastructure
and economic activities in the communities of South Stann Creek and the
The EU has also accepted our plan of action for the sugar industry and has
allocated just over $7 million. Additional annual allocations to improve
the competitiveness of Belize's sugar industry and to facilitate the
continued social development of the sugar belt are expected until 2013.
In February, 2006, the UK Government completed its assessment under the
DFID Commonwealth Debt Initiative. Belize again qualified for debt relief.
This makes available some $4 million for macro-economic stability,
governance improvement and poverty reduction initiatives through the Social
Due to the strong political and financial support by Belize and the
professional expertise provided by its staff headed by Dr. Kenrick Leslie,
the Climate Change Centre - a Caricom organization housed in Belmopan - has
had yet another successful year. In August 2006 Caricom and the World Bank,
recognizing the ability of the Centre to carry out projects, transferred
the Mainstreaming Adaptation to Climate Change Project (MACC) from the
Caricom Secretariat to the Centre.
The Southside Poverty Alleviation Project - an initiative to provide
infrastructure development for the Collet, Lake Independence and Port
Loyola areas of Belize City is about to enter its first phase of work with
partial funding of some $12 million approved by the OPEC Fund. A
feasibility study has been completed. The Project Execution Unit of the
Ministry of Works has completed the design for the civil works. A land use
and Urban Study has been commissioned. Works are expected to commence later
this financial year.
The Placencia Road Upgrading is a high priority on our list of planned
capital works and will shortly go to tender. The Caribbean Development Bank
is expected to provide loan funding. Construction should begin in 2007
following the completion of the procurement process.
Similarly the completion of the paving of the Southern Highway (9 miles
from the Golden Stream Bridge to the community of Big Falls) should get
underway with funding by the Kuwait Fund by early 2007.
The Ministry of Agriculture is providing dehydrated fruits (papaya,
pineapple) as health snacks for distribution to needy school children in
collaboration with the Ministry of Education and the ROC Mission at Central
Also with the assistance of the Republic of China (Taiwan) the construction
of an indoor sports facility at the Marion Jones Stadium should commence by
the end of this year. The layout and design of the Dangriga Sports Centre
is almost complete and building should commence by year's end.
As a member of the international community Belize continues to work closely
with our international partners such as the United Kingdom, the United
States of America and Mexico. We have strengthened our cooperation
programmes with the Republic of China (Taiwan) in the fields of
agriculture, education and sharing of information technology. We continue
to expand health services through the assistance of the Cuban Medical
Brigade. Hundreds of Belizeans benefited from eye surgery through the
generous offer of the Cuban Government which will soon be assisting our
country with a comprehensive energy saving programme with the installation
of energy efficient light bulbs in houses across the country.
Through our military cooperation programme with Mexico, the USA and the UK
we continue to benefit from training and equipment for the BDF, Customs and
Immigration Departments. The US Embassy has secured a donation of
US$374,000 for specialized forensic equipment and training in scenes of
crime, and in DNA analysis. Training for our Coast Guard personnel is also
provided by US authorities.
In April, 2006 Belize and Guatemala signed a bilateral trade agreement
which will assist in improving our balance of trade with our neighbours
with benefits accruing to national industries such as citrus, cattle and
The Government of Spain has continued to support our efforts through an
economic cooperation programme. The Government of the Bolivarian Republic
of Venezuela has provided balance of payments support as well as included
Belize under the Petro Caribe facility.
In our Caribbean Community (CARICOM) the Single Market is finally becoming
a reality. Belize complied with all the necessary legislative requirements
in January, 2006.
As a member of SICA - the Central American Integration System - Belize will
be assuming the Presidency Pro-tempore during the first quarter of 2007.
The Millennium Development Goals
Last year Belize completed its first five-year Millennium Development Goals
Report. The eight goals to which all members of the international community
committed, range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of
HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education - all by the target date
Our 2005 Report provides an accounting to date on how far we have come and
how far we have to go. It reflects a collaborative effort by our
government, international agencies and local NGOs.
The Millennium Declaration identified simple but meaningful goals to
achieve improvements in the fields of education and health, to reverse
global environmental degradation and promote gender equity. In a document
prepared by the UN - A Latin American and Caribbean Perspective - the
question of inequality was paramount with the Latin American region having
the dubious distinction of being the most inequitable region in the world.
The Report advocates an approach to achieving growth with equity, which
entails institutional changes that will allow social policy to be placed at
the centre of development strategy.
William Easterly, a Professor of Economics and a senior fellow at the
Centre for Global Development in his book "The White Man's Burden" makes
the telling point that the historic mistake of the past has been to view
poverty as a technical engineering problem which planners believe they can
solve from the top to the bottom.
He argues that poverty is a complicated tangle of political, social,
historical, institutional and technological factors and that most solutions
must be home grown. Only the people can save the people. (Solo el pueblo
salva el pueblo).
Development begins essentially with the individual, in the family and in
the community. Our task must be to provide the enabling environment for our
people to become more self reliant, to create fundamental and positive
changes in the way we live together and work together.
Our Government is engaged in the preparation of a long term development
strategy. The preparation of Vision 2025, as it is now referred to, is
receiving financial support from both the IDB and DFID. This Vision 2025
cannot be imposed from above. It must result from widespread consultations
and dialogue. Ownership and empowerment must be the driving forces.
As the adage puts it : "Tell people and they may forget. Show people and
they may remember. Involve them in dialogue and doing and they will
The Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment is undergoing several
structural changes to improve its overall performance. The Ministry took a
paradigm shift towards natural resources management recognizing that
success hinges on a more people-oriented approach. This year the Lands and
Survey Department has been devising new strategies for land distribution
with focus on improving land management and improved land security. Through
the lease to title project hundreds of land titles for home ownership and
farming have been provided.
Under the National Cadastre and Property Rights Registration Project some
44,000 rural and urban parcels are to be declared within some 50 new
compulsory registration sectors.
The National Protected Areas Policy and System Plan was officially
presented on January 18, 2006 following Cabinet's endorsement. One of the
fundamental goals of this policy and plan is for poverty alleviation of
local and indigenous groups and sustainable development of the country as a
The Oil Industry
Belize National Energy Ltd. (BNE) has drilled five successful oil wells in
the Spanish Lookout area of the Cayo District which are currently producing
some 2,700 barrels of oil per day. Total production to date is
approximately 445,000 barrels. The House of Representatives has passed the
Petroleum Tax amendment whereby the tax was increased from 25% to 40% on
net profits. This new tax measure is in line with the international
benchmark for frontier developing countries like Belize. Government has
also opted for a 10% state participation in the commercial find with BNE
providing interest free financing for the purchase of these shares.
So far six other companies have been granted petroleum exploration
licenses. To ensure that this fledging industry is guided in the right
direction, a Petroleum Advisory Board was established comprised of
membership from the public and private sectors. The Department of Petroleum
and Geology has embarked on a capacity building effort, hiring additional
geologists and technicians. The Government of Trinidad & Tobago and the
Commonwealth Secretariat have been most helpful in providing technical
advice. There is hope that the emerging oil industry in Belize will reduce
our dependence on oil imports, save foreign exchange and contribute greatly
to our national development, especially in health and education.
Education is not the answer to the Question. Education is the means to the
answer to all questions. This was the theme at a recent conference on
tertiary education in Belize. We are indeed a nation unquestionably
committed to education. Today in Belize there are some 87,000 students
enrolled in educational institutions from pre-school to university.
Education accounts for 22% or $122 million of the recurrent budget. A
further $18.3 million is allocated to the capital education budget.
This last year, we witnessed a dramatic shift towards technical and
vocational education with the completion of new TVET institutions in the
Stann Creek, Cayo, Orange Walk and Corozal Districts. This major investment
of $40 million with loan funding from the Caribbean Development Bank is a
clear recognition by this Government that our prospects for future growth
are directly linked to our capacity to embrace science, technology and
vocational skills training.
Other notable achievements include the expansion of pre-schools with 14 new
pre-schools opened primarily in southern Belize. Special education has also
received increased attention with many more special needs students
attending high schools on scholarships. Ms. Teresita Moh was our first
blind student to attend the University of Belize on full Government
scholarship. Einstein Bodden, another special needs student, won a
professional and technical scholarship to the UWI medical programme.
To provide equitable access to education is only the beginning. We must
ensure that this education is of a high quality that equips our young
people with the knowledge and skills as well as positive attitudes for
productive living and values of hard work, thrift, honesty and tolerance
embracing change, innovation and new technology.
Our world is undergoing a profound economic social and political
restructuring. The globalization of international market for goods,
services and capital is re-shaping national economies across the globe. In
parallel the rapid expansion of information and communication technologies
has led to an increasing use of electronic networks in management,
production and marketing. In this rapidly changing world, development
hinges more on the ability of a society to apply knowledge to production
rather than on the availability of raw materials and cheap labour.
Change and reform are the imperatives of our time. Reform is more than a
buzz word. It is more than opening our country to foreign trade and
investment, and making sound macro-economic policy changes. All that is
important. But it is not enough.
It also involves looking at key aspects of our society - good governance,
strong oversight institutions and evidence gathering to tackle issues of
alleged corruption, contraband and abuse, improved infrastructure,
affordable quality health care - and that is why we are advancing with our
health reform and rolling out the National Health Insurance (NHI) to the
Stann Creek and Toledo Districts, and by the end of 2007 we are aiming to
have quality affordable health care services throughout the country
The Reform Agenda also includes strengthening the administration of
justice, upholding the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law.
Over these past twenty-five years since independence Belize has been
through significant stages of tremendous growth and development. Our people
have far greater access to education, home ownership, health care, and job
opportunities than ever before. New and modern infrastructure connects all
regions of our country and remote villages to towns and cities.
More than 80% of our country now has access to clean drinking water and a
stable supply of electricity. The Social Investment Fund recently completed
six new rural water systems with five more systems nearing completion.
Telecommunications has advanced to a world class standard.
At the same time we are confronted by serious socio-economic challenges -
persistent poverty in the midst of growing prosperity.
Freedom from want for those living at the margins of society is still our
great challenge. With growing materialism and the obsession with instant
gratification, there is a hunger of the spirit - a hunger for meaning in
The solutions to crime and violence, alcohol and drug abuse, human
trafficking, HIV/AIDS, domestic violence and child abuse are
multi-dimensional. Law and order and national security must be maintained
and the Police and the Belize Defence Force deserve our highest
commendation and support for the work they do in crime prevention and crime
control. So too does the staff in the Ministry of Human Development and all
the social agencies such as the Committee for Families and Children, the
National AIDS Commission and Youth for the Future.
We are also grateful for the tremendous job being done by the Kolbe
Foundation in prison reform and rehabilitation.
But the lasting solution to all our social problems must in the end come
from within -- each individual sense of responsibility, each family
structure, each neighbourhood sense of concern, each community sense of
togetherness. The search is for a purpose-driven life, filled with hope and
Charting a New Way Forward
In the design of this year's budget and the policies we have been
implementing, we have made bold and decisive steps to put our house in order.
There is more to be done not only to ensure that we secure the gains we are
making in our public finances but also to ensure that as we move ahead, we
chart a course that creates opportunities for all our people -
opportunities to build strong and prosperous communities, opportunities for
our young people and our women to enjoy a purpose-driven life through
education, sports, culture and gainful employment.
Our people's struggle over these past twenty-five years was the building of
the new nation of Belize, defending and maintaining its political
independence, its sovereignty, territorial integrity and freedom for its
people. Belizeans can feel justly proud of our accomplishments. We are
proud to be Belizeans and grateful for the many blessings bestowed on our
country by the Creator with His Holy Spirit of counsel and fortitude.
Our goal now must be to build a fairer, gentler society - a society of
social justice where the fruits of development are spread more equitably
with the opportunity for all to work and prosper in a secure future. It is
to create a society where our Belizean children are surrounded with love at
home, at school and at play; where our senior citizens are cared for by
families and friends; where there is respect, tolerance and compassion;
where the human energy and strength that comes from within will overcome
doubt and mistrust and all the negative forces that breed violence, hate
To a crisis of the spirit we need an answer of the spirit. To find the
answer we need only to look within ourselves. When we listen to 'the better
angels of our nature' we find that they celebrate the simple things, the
basic things - such as goodness, decency, love, kindness.
We have endured a long night of the Belizean spirit in more recent times.
But as our eyes catch the dimness of the first rays of dawn, let us not
curse the remaining dark. Let us gather the light.
The destiny of Belize offers not the cup of despair but the chalice of
opportunity. So let us seize it, not in fear, but in gladness. Let us go
forward, firm in our faith, steadfast in our purpose, sustained by our
confidence in the will of God and the promise that our best tomorrows are
yet to come.
Re: Prime Minister Delivers State of the Nation Address
09/20/06 05:37 AM
09/20/06 05:37 AM
Joined: Jan 2004
Seems like the bullets would go well with the stinger watercraft given to the coastguard sometime this year? But I see your point train them in forensics and then give them bullets to test their abilities. Beside training is free anyway.
I read it on the internet so it must be true.
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