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Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,395
Marty Offline OP
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This weekend, the ruling United Democratic Party (UDP) completes two full years since a comprehensive general elections victory in 2008, in which it swept the opposition People’s United Party (PUP) from office after ten years of being in government.
But the tenure of Prime Minister Dean Barrow and his 24 fellow representatives has so far been a challenging one, as they have been dogged from the start by allegations of corruption and nepotism – practices the Prime Minister swore he would do his best to stamp out – and handcuffed by the bite of the international economic recession that began to take effect in the latter stages of 2008 and throughout 2009.
On Wednesday afternoon, following an event hosted by the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) at the Institute for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (ITVET) compound on Freetown Road in Belize City, members of the press, including Amandala, engaged the P.M. in a frank and open discussion on the state of the nation at this time in his term of office.
P.M. Barrow began by noting strides in infrastructure and education, and cited the achievements of the Ministries of Works (headed by Hon. Anthony “Boots” Martinez) and Education (under Hon. Patrick Faber) as the most significant thus far for the Administration. Martinez and the Works staff have been crisscrossing the nation making repairs to all major highways and finishing two long-overdue projects – the Placencia Road and the last 10 miles of the Southern Highway – and intend to step up to pave and repair streets in Belize City this year under the Southside Poverty Alleviation Project and Urban Redevelopment Project. Faber has been pushing for reform in the education sector and opening opportunities for less-advantaged students with $300 tuition grants for students in the first two years of high school.
And on corruption, while the P.M. admitted his ministers were not, in his words, “Simon pure,” he argued that there has not been as much “wholesale corruption” in this term as was, according to him, a “hallmark” of the previous administration.
In light of the recent Country Poverty Assessment written by Halcrow Group Limited for GOB and the Caribbean Development Bank, in which it was reported that the poverty rate rose from 33% in 2002 to 43% in 2009 (with a further 14% vulnerable to poverty), the Prime Minister vowed that poverty alleviation would be completely central to the future development of Belize, and admitted that the global recession had taken a bite out of our revenues and forced us to depend more on international support.
Turning to crime, the Prime Minister said that the Police Department would be receiving additional vehicles to conduct patrols, and said that efforts at “social intervention” (perhaps epitomized by his meeting with gang leaders at the CYDP compound in January) would continue, even as he lamented the senseless violence that threatens the life of 7-year-old Janay Moguel, stepdaughter to his driver.
And for now, the men leading the fight will be Commissioner of Police Crispin Jeffries and Minister of National Security Carlos Perdomo, neither of whom is expected to go anywhere soon. Of Jeffries, the Prime Minister said that he was “completely committed.” “… (I have) never seen anyone work as hard as Jeffries does. …He leads (his men) by precept and example,” the PM continued.
As optimistic a review as that is, the question of needed resources for the Department leads right back to finance. The PM told Amandala that while GOB will use the good offices of the Merida Initiative and other means to acquire equipment, of the two most-needed items – the Integrated Ballistics Information System (IBIS) and DNA machine – he told us it would have to be one or the other for now.
Turning to oil, the Prime Minister defended his government’s treatment of Belize Natural Energy (BNE), stating that Belizeans needed to see the entire picture.
In terms of what the take is, would I like more? Absolutely,…First of all we are locked into a contract by the last government, the same people who are bleating so loudly, and I draw a distinction between contracts that we didn’t know about, secret contracts such as the Accommodation Agreement, which I think we have every moral and perhaps legal right to reject, and contracts that were signed in the full light of day in a publicly disclosed manner. You are going to break those sorts of contracts at your legal peril and also at the risk of interfering with the investment climate.” The P.M. explained.
He went on to add that while exploration continues for oil, Belize would not risk chasing away potential investors by demonstrating untrustworthiness, admitting that it is a “catch-22” situation.
Later speaking one-on-one with Amandala, the PM also addressed the erroneous Prensa Libre report of January 27 on alleged incursions into Guatemalan territory by BDF soldiers.

Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP
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PM says deficit will affect GOB operations; not development

Dean Barrow

Dean Barrow

Turning to the economy, it's no secret that "haad" times are hitting home and that little under fifty percent of the population is now considered poor according to a Poverty Assessment report. With the economic and social picture already dismal, Prime Minister Dean Barrow, warned on Wednesday at his first press conference for the year, that the budget for the upcoming fiscal year will have a gaping hole, in the range of sixty million dollars. No stimulus was offered although the budget is expected to be presented to the House of Representatives in early March. But before that, on Tuesday, the Cabinet will go over the figures. And where will the pinch be felt the most? News Five caught up with the Prime Minister in Belmopan today and asked what areas will be affected by the deficit.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

"The deficit in the budget is most important from the point of view of government's operational activities. We have to pay salaries, we have to buy material, we have to provide goods and services on a recurrent basis and that is where the greatest crunch is being felt. In terms of the development side of things, in terms of the job creation side of things-first of all we've tried to find more jobs for the public service-but the funding, the monies, the financing that's necessary to anchor what we call the public sector investment program; the investment in new classrooms, the investment in new infrastructure, the investment in new water systems; that aspect of things I am confident will be in tact because of the funds that we are able to secure from the international development institutions: the Caribbean Development Bank, the European Union and so on. So I actually expect for there to be an increase in development activity; the problem is on the operational side."

Channel 5

Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP
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Wikileaks: PUP and UDP are same thing

From Wikileaks regarding this press conference:





(SBU) The PM displayed a deftness in answering candid questions
from the media and taking every opportunity to depict the UDP's
efforts in a positive light. Yet despite his broad claims of
success, Post has yet to see a significant difference between the
current UDP Government and previous PUP administration. We often
witness more of the same cronyism, public complaints of corruption
at many levels of Government, and ineffective public service
entities, including hospitals, police, and schools. In the face of
extreme budget shortfalls and a downturn in tourism, the ambitions
of the UDP-led Government seem unrealistic. While the PM describes
the relative success of the economy, the public feels the pinch.
While crime statistics have improved, the public's perception is
that the country is becoming more violent. While the PM speaks of
private sector increases in construction and an increase in funding
for tourism development, the Teachers' Union is protesting the
budget allocated to educators' pay for the 2010 budget. The UDP has
made some strides in making the GOB more transparent, yet no
charges have been brought to hold individuals accountable for the
hundreds of thousands of missing dollars from a variety of
Government offices. However, the GOB has been working with the
Embassy on implementing the Merida Initiative in Belize, and has
made strides in seizures of drugs and in thwarting several money
laundering schemes. END COMMENT.

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