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#401907 - 03/07/11 09:26 AM Friday is Budget Day; no new taxes says PM  
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Friday, March 11, is Budget Day in Belize, when Prime Minister Dean Barrow, who is also Minister of Finance, will present his new budget for fiscal year 2011-2012.

Details of the budget are not yet known, but the prime minister has assured Belizeans that there will be no new taxes.

He told a news conference that total revenues and grand receipts are currently at $559.6 million, and the total expenditure is $566.7 million so that there is an overall deficit at this point in time of $7.1 million. He added that the good news is that currently there is a recurrent balance of $72.4 million and there is a primary surplus of $44.5 million.

Total revenue so far is $544.8 million. That's up by $44.5 million compared to the similar period for fiscal year 2009-2010.

The prime minister said that Statistical Institute of Belize had already given him an indication of what their preliminary GDP growth estimate was for 2010, and that, in their belief, growth would be at least 2.5 percent.

This is the highest growth rate in the entire Caribbean coming out of the economic recession, as only two other countries in the region are recording positive growth. Those countries are Guyana and the Netherlands Antilles at 0.8 percent growth.

Debate on the budget will take place next week and implementation of the new budget will begin on April 1 as is customary.

Caribbean News Now!

#401944 - 03/07/11 04:53 PM Re: Friday is Budget Day; no new taxes says PM [Re: Marty]  
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Mike Campbell Offline
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Well I must say I do not understand what is going on here. The GOB claims 2.5% growth minimum. I see the economy declining with record numbers of auctions and bankruptcies. I see very little economic activity in Belize City, I know there are no jobs down south and San Pedro is definitely not experiencing economic growth except for a few individuals.
Is the economy of the GOB the same as the economy of the people? For example, including petroleum revenues in the economic picture gives a false impression as does the income from cruise tourism. Causal observation would indicate the economy is slowing still.
Regardless 2.5% growth rate is a disaster when you have so many young people that need jobs with even more entering the work force annually. It seems we are loosing ground rather than gaining. I dont understand how that can be if the GOB stats are accurate.

#402264 - 03/12/11 12:06 PM Re: Friday is Budget Day; no new taxes says PM [Re: Marty]  
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Government today presented its budget for fiscal year 2011/2012 under the bold title, “Celebrating Growth, Sustaining Recovery”. Prime Minister Dean Barrow says they project a three percent growth for 2011/2012 following an estimated two point four percent growth by the end of the current fiscal year.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“These draft estimates have been prepared on the assumption that nominal GDP will grow, in real terms, by about 3% over the fiscal year. This reflects projected increases in electricity generation, retail trade, tourism services, transportation, and agricultural production, as well as strong public sector investment activities. We are also assuming a moderate overall increase in food prices. Mr. Speaker, for the proposed Budget for Fiscal Year 2010-2011, we have set a preliminary target for the Primary Surplus of 2.23% of GDP, and a target for the Overall Deficit of 1.57% of GDP. Total Revenue and Grants are estimated at $843.6 million. This is an increase of $91.0 million over the expected outturn for last fiscal year. Total Expenditure is estimated at $890.0 million. Taken together, the result is an overall deficit, before Amortization of $46.4 million, equal to the 1.57% of GDP. The provision for amortization payments has increased slightly to $63.0 million which, when added to the Overall Deficit, results in an Overall Financing Requirement of $109.4 million.”

Government also proposes to allocate around $160.4 million in the coming fiscal year to its capital program. The allocations are estimated at $48.2 million in the locally funded Capital two program and $107.3 million in the externally funded Capital three program that includes projects such as the Macal River Crossing, Rural Electrification, the Big Falls to Guatemala Border road, the border crossing facilities at Santa Elena, Corozal, and agricultural support to farmers. Leader of the Opposition John Briceno is not convinced, however, that government will be able to accomplish the program.

Opposition Leader John Briceno

‘If you notice that he did not meet his target for 2010/2011 and then in the 2011/2012 budget he is slashing it down even further but what is even worse is that his Cap Three program, the one that is offering him the most challenges, year after year he comes to the National Assembly and to give excuses that he is having problems in the Ministry of economic Development with the personnel because he can’t access. In this instance what the Prime Minister has done, he has increased significantly what e expects to get in Cap Three program. If we look at his past record for the past three years we know for sure it will be extremely difficult for the Prime Minister to live up to, to access the Cap Three. I remember one time when he was speaking of the previous government where he was saying because the previous government’s growth was not based on growth economics but borrowing economics I wonder now how he would explain for today alone we are going to be borrowing over 83 million dollars in five different loan motions that have already presented yet he is only prepared to accept that the amount of loans that have increased is only about 72 million externally yet today alone we have over 83 million dollars that we borrowing. When you look at the records at the Central Bank this government has borrowed about 454 million dollars since he got into Government. The Prime Minister has been trying to keep his budget going just by borrowing more and more.”

In his proposals for fiscal year 2011/2012, the Prime Minister highlighted proposed work in the areas of poverty reduction and social protection where government proposes to provide four million dollars for a conditional cash transfer initiative countrywide. Government also proposes to increase citizen security. Today the Prime Minister announced that there is a new program that begins on Monday where fifteen gang members from the City will be employed at the Ministry of Works. According to the Barrow, these men will be working in rural areas across Belize.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“We believe this will result in an immediate lessening of tensions and a de-escalation in all shooting incidents. The fact is this has come about because of an approach made to me by perhaps by the most feared of gang leaders. I did not seek him out, he sought me out and this Mr. Speaker is therefore an extremely significant signal of a willingness to change. We hope to build on this initiative by finding more district work soon for another 15 young men from a completely different city turf.”

Government has also made proposals for work in the areas of education, health, physical infrastructure and home improvement and low income construction.


#402265 - 03/12/11 12:08 PM Re: Friday is Budget Day; no new taxes says PM [Re: Marty]  
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Prime Minister Presents “Rebound” Budget

And so while the budget usually snags the headline - with his gas tax break, the Prime Minister stole his own budgetary thunder.

Still, that doesn't mean the speech was devoid of news value….the hour long presentation did have a few attention grabbing details. Jules Vasquez reports:…

Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"This is a good Budget, Mr. Speaker, positioning us on the recovery path and hastening the pace of development and equity"

Called "Celebrating Growth, Sustaining Recovery," the Prime Minister's Budget Speech cued in on the GDP growth after a year of stagnation:

Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"We are buoyed by a 2.4% GDP growth for the year that's ending, and a forecast of 3% for 2011/2012. In the circumstances, Mr. Speaker, you will forgive me if the tone of this beginning reflects a degree of satisfaction. But pretty much all we undertook to do last year, has been done."

But it's not quite mission accomplished, that's why Barrow says his government is redoubling its efforts:

Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"Increased infrastructure activity; continuing strides in education and health; advances in agriculture leading to self-sufficiency and food security; private sector growth fuelled by cheaper credit and no new taxes; improvement in law and order; and, above all, our mantra, our gospel, our talisman: ever greater investment in, compassion for, and protection of, the poor."

Pro-poor initiatives form the bulwark of the budget:

Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"We will continue to make impregnable the ramparts guarding the poor and the marginalized. The government repeats, with no apology and indeed with much pride, that our pro-poor programmes are the centerpiece of our social campaign, our mandate of egalitarianism. We are therefore replenishing our funding for the food support programme that we started on Southside Belize City. But we are going further now. We are expanding it to the North side of the old capital; and rolling it out to the Cayo District where it will serve, principally, the disadvantaged residents of the twin towns. Altogether then, we will provide 2.5 million dollars over the coming year to help with food cost of living. The Conditional Cash Transfer initiative is of countrywide application, and there is 4 million for that. We are also starting a brand new interventions this year, under which we will give child care subsidies to working families nationwide."

And while child care is one issue, citizen safety is another and the prime minister announced an interesting initiative that starts on Monday:

Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"Fifteen of the most high- energy gang members and affiliates from one of the most challenging areas of the City have been taken on by the Ministry of Works. They will be dispatched to jobs in the rural areas of 14three different Districts. We believe this will result in an immediate lessening of tensions and a de- escalation of old capital shooting incidents. The fact is this has come about because of an approach made to me by perhaps the most feared of the so-called gang leaders. I greatly welcome this signal of a willingness to change; and we hope to build on the initiative by finding more district work soon for another fifteen young men from a completely different turf."

There will be no new taxes:

Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"In recent weeks leading up to this Budget Presentation, I made the pledge that there will be no new taxes on the Belizean Public. This is a pledge that I fully intend to honor."

"However, there is one small measure that we propose to impose on the local oil sector. That is to raise the rate of Excise Tax on Locally Produced Petroleum from $1.00 to $2.00 per barrel."

"The additional yield is expected to be in the region of $1.2 million dollars, and the proceeds will be applied to the new social protection program in the Cayo District, the home of B.N.E."

And while BNE will pay 1.2 million dollars more in taxes, consumers will pay less tax on fuel as GST will be replaced by a lower import duty.

Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"Effective today, we will sign into law a Statutory Instrument that will zero-rate the GST on gasoline, illuminating kerosene and diesel. In its place, we will increase the Import Duty on gasoline and diesel by a fixed, specific-rate amount. This amount will not be what the GST take is currently, at over 100 US dollars a barrel; but what the GST take was when world oil prices were in the US$85 per barrel range."

While that will provide some relief, there's no relief on debt service payments:

Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"Debt service payments will escalate from $175.1 million in fiscal year 2011/2012 to $205 million in fiscal year 2013/14. This is because of the jumps in the interest rates being paid on the Super Bond from 4 1/4 to 6 percent in 2010, and further to 8 1?2 percent in 2012. In the current global context, these are extortionate rates."

And while the Superbond is an all-occasion bad guy - the Prime Minister still rounded the bad news off with a flourish at the finish

Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"Mr. Speaker, what a difference a year makes! Inspired by the return to growth and the credo I have just set out, this government now confidently takes the Belizean agenda forward. We have turned things around and once more are free to fly. So, Mr. Speaker, it is onward and upward."

Clocking in at 60 minutes, the speech was shorter than the previous ones given by this Prime Minister. Still, on a decided down note - we must mention that for the first time in 17 years of covering the House Budget Presentation under four different Ministers of Finance - this is the very first time we have left the National Assembly Building without getting a hard copy of the speech.

It was sent to our newsroom electronically two hours after the presentation but the hard copy - particularly the statistical tables - are required by the press when the meeting is still in session - so that it can inform our question and answer session, and color radio commentary. When we asked the press office, they told us hard copies were not provided to them.

Channel 7

#402269 - 03/12/11 12:12 PM Re: Friday is Budget Day; no new taxes says PM [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 55,662
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2011-2012 Budget with $46.4 Million deficit

Dean barrow

Even though construction, manufacturing and fishing are not up to target and shrimp production has not shown signs of recovery, in the new budget, government is projecting a three percent growth in GDP. According to the prime minister, the growth will be reflected in electricity generation, retail trade, tourism services, transportation and agricultural production as well as investment in the public sector. The thrust of the budget is on poverty reduction but government says it will spend only two point five million to help with the food support programme. Other priorities of the budget are citizen security, education, health and physical infrastructure and GOB has also found a new bilateral partner. News Five’s Jose Sanchez was in Belmopan today when the budget was read.

Jose Sanchez, Reporting

The 2011-2012 budget presentation took place today at parliament which was filled with supporters of Cayo South’s Ramon Witz, blocking opposition supporters from the gallery. During the budget presentation, the PM announced no new taxes, except for Belize Natural Energy.

Dean Barrow

“In the recent weeks leading up to this budget presentation, I made the pledge that there will be no new taxes on Belizean public. This is a pledge that this budget honors. We have therefore constructed the budget with creativity to avoid the need for any tax increases that will place a burden on local businesses, employees and the general public. However, there is one small measure that we propose to impose, but only on the local oil sector—that is; to raise the rate of excise tax on locally produced petroleum from one dollars to two dollars per barrel. Giving what that sector is reaping from the recent spikes in international prices, we do not think that this is asking too much. The additional yield is expected to be in the region of one point two million dollars and the proceeds will be applied to that new social protection program in the Cayo District, the home of B.N.E.”

Total revenue is eight hundred and forty-three point six million. Expenditure is at eight hundred and ninety million. And despite a forty-six point four million dollars deficit, the P.M. remains optimistic.

Dean Barrow

“We have been successful. We are buoyed by a two point four percent G.D.P. growth for the year that’s ending and a forecast of three percent for 2011-2012. In the circumstances Mister Speaker, you will forgive me if the tone of this beginning reflects a degree of satisfaction, but pretty much all that we undertook to do last year has been done. We project that the fiscal outturn will only be slightly lower than the approved budget. We project that at the end of the current fiscal year, we will have achieved a primary surplus of one point seven three percent of G.D.P. and an overall deficit of two point four-four percent of G.D.P. Both indicators are within one half of a percentage point of the budget estimates. This overall deficit of sixty-nine point two million and the amortization requirement of a further sixty point nine million are projected to be financed by fifty-two point five million in external loan disbursements and seventy-seven point six million drawn from the domestic banking system. Revenue Performance: total revenue is projected at seven hundred and thirty-nine point eight million or some forty-nine point three million below the budgeted figure. The shortfall is largely in taxes on goods and services estimated to come in at some thirty-two point one million below budget. This is notwithstanding the increase in rates of the general sales tax which took effect at the beginning of the fiscal year. The gap is due in part to the widening of the zero rated basket of consumer goods. But also to a decline in taxable imports. On the other hand, taxes on income and profits were essentially on target reflecting a strong performance from, again Mister Speaker, the local petroleum sector. Income taxes from this sector alone amounted to forty-five point three million dollars with a further sixteen point four million estimated from related royalties, production sharing and working interest inflows. Taxes on international trade and transactions are projected at one hundred and sixty-three point five million or seven percent below budget; primarily due to a seven point seven million dollar fall in import duties. Capital revenue is expected to come in at four point one million compared to a budgeted figure of four point eight million—and this revenue comes mostly from purchases of crown land under leasehold arrangements.”

The Grant portion of budget is expected to increase to fifty-four point three million in the coming year. However, twenty million U.S. was lost from Taiwan, but Russia is now giving Belize millions.

Dean Barrow

“For the upcoming fiscal year, we are being greatly helped by new grant resources in the sum of U.S. twenty million dollars under an economic corporation program we have initiated with the Russian Federation. This is an exciting development marking the start of an outreach to a country that has not traditionally been within our foreign policy contemplation. I have been invited and plan to travel in June to Moscow for discussion on ways to further strengthen this fledgling framework for their bilateral support of Belize.”

Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

The House meeting concluded in the afternoon. Several bills were tabled for a first or second reading. Notably, an amendment was introduced to the Firearms Act to provide for the registration of bullet proof vests. When the amendment was first introduced, it provided for persons to be remanded if found in possession of the bullet proof vest. A bill to amend the Supreme Court of Judicature Act was also tabled to restrict magistrates to release persons convicted of drug trafficking offences.

Channel 5

#402561 - 03/17/11 08:52 AM Re: Friday is Budget Day; no new taxes says PM [Re: Marty]  
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Barrow’s budget - $953 million
[Linked Image]
The national budget, which details nearly a billion dollars in spending—$953 million to be exact—was read in the National Assembly on Friday, March 11. The budget, which calls for a new levy on locally produced petroleum and a restructuring of pump prices with the elimination of General Sales Tax, will rely on both local and foreign sources to help close a $109 million financing gap to settle debt payments and cover the budget deficit.

Of interest is that Russia emerges as a major donor towards this year’s budget. It is providing Belize with US$20 million in grants for the 2011/2012 budget, according to Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dean Barrow, who introduced the budget of the National Assembly.

“I have been invited, and plan to travel to Moscow in June for discussions on ways to strengthen this fledgling framework for bilateral support,” said Barrow. “Funds from this program will be used to support both our Capital II and Capital III budgets, as well as to cover a portion of the Hurricane Richard rehabilitation expenses incurred in the current fiscal year.”

Captioned “Celebrating Growth, Sustaining Recovery,” the budget is the biggest on record, including $730 million in spending on recurrent items such as wages and salaries, goods and services and interest payments on debts; $160 million on projects and $63 million in payments to help bring down the $2 billion national debt.

Commenting on the budget Opposition Leader Johnny Briceño told Amandala, “The Prime Minister has no idea how to move this country forward.” “He is still not talking about 21 promises,” he said.

Briceño said Barrow is using capital funding to help cover the deficit of over $100 million. He noted that in the current budget, the government spent only 40-odd million on capital III projects, when much more had been projected. “This [new plan] is not going to materialize,” said Briceño, speaking of the 2011/2012 plan for projects.

The issue of the debt is the next big issue, he said. Briceño said that whereas Barrow has claimed that the national debt has only grown by $72 million since the administration of the United Democratic Party took office, and the rate of borrowing has been on low concessionary terms, the new borrowing has totaled $454 million and at this Friday’s sitting alone, said Briceño, they brought $83 million more in debt to the National Assembly.

“What we have to show for it except higher cost of living and high crime?” he questioned.

This year’s proposed budget is comparable to last year’s approved budget: $939 million in spending, including amortization, approved for 2010/2011 versus $953 million proposed for the 2011/2012 budget. It is a difference of only $14 million.

Based on figures Prime Minister Barrow presented on Friday, spending on the current budget is expected to fall $56 million short of the approved figures, with spending on wages and salaries projected to be $11 million less than the approved figure last year.

The biggest difference is seen in spending on capital III projects, financed with grants, primarily from overseas financiers. That was down 46%, compared with spending that is now projected at $45 million, versus the approved $83 million.

However, the Prime Minister said that when the Russian grant is added to other sources, such as those from the European Union, the Caribbean Development Bank, and various United Nations Agencies, total grants are expected to increase to $54.3 million in the upcoming year.

According to Barrow, the hole in the budget will be stopped with (1) draw-downs of approximately BZ$62.5 million in project-related external loans; (2) a drawdown of BZ$15.0 million from the Inter-American Development Bank; (3) a drawdown of BZ$20 million from the Republic of China (ROC); and (4) a moderate amount of domestic financing of approximately $12.0 million from the Government of Belize.

“We have, therefore, constructed our budget with creativity to avoid the need for any tax increases that would place a burden on local businesses, employees, or the general public. However, there is one small measure that we propose to impose on the local oil sector—that is, to raise the rate of excise tax on locally produced petroleum from $1.00 to $2.00 per barrel,” said Barrow.

This would yield government roughly $1.2 million, and the proceeds would be applied to the new social protection program in the Cayo District, said Barrow.

Apart from detailing the national budget, Prime Minister Barrow reported that the economy had grown at a rate of 2.4% during the last calendar year, 2010. He said that, “...the growth was underpinned by expansions in services, utilities, sugarcane, non-traditional crops and livestock.”

He also reported “a sizeable increase in the domestic capacity for electricity generation” due to the Vaca Dam and the bagasse cogeneration plant coming fully online.

Barrow also reported an upswing in tourism, with increases in stay-over and cruise ship visitors of 1.4% and 8.4%, respectively.

He said that domestic prices began to spike again during 2010, with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) averaging a 0.9% annual increase, compared to the deflation of 1.1% during 2009.

Fuel prices were a major contributor to 2010 inflation, he said, adding that prices were down for the “Food, Beverages and Tobacco” and “Household Goods and Maintenance” categories. Barrow attributed this to tax amendments made for the last budget.

Whereas unemployment figures were not provided in the reading of this year’s budget to update the 13% rate reported for 2009, the Prime Minister highlighted an interesting program that he said would provide jobs to key gang members in rural areas starting Monday, March 14.

“Fifteen of the most high-energy gang members and affiliates from one of the most challenging areas of the City have been taken on by the Ministry of Works. They will be dispatched to jobs in the rural areas of three different Districts,” said Barrow. “We believe this will result in an immediate lessening of tensions and a de-escalation of old capital shooting incidents. The fact is this has come about because of an approach made to me by perhaps the most feared of the so-called gang leaders. I greatly welcome this signal of a willingness to change; and we hope to build on the initiative by finding more district work soon for another fifteen young men from a completely different turf.”

Detailing the physical infrastructure works billed for 2011/2012, Barrow said: “Significant sums will, therefore, be allocated for the upgrading of the Toledo District highway to the Guatemalan border; continuation of work on the Kendal Bridge; and upgrading of rural and feeder roads in the sugar belt. Residents of the district towns will be pleased to see that we have allocated two and a half million dollars for street rehabilitation in their municipalities.”

Whereas Friday was slated for the presentation of the budget, Parliamentarians return to the National Assembly in two weeks for the debate, slated for Thursday, March 24, and Friday, March 25.


#402688 - 03/18/11 06:59 PM Re: Friday is Budget Day; no new taxes says PM [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 55,662
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Belizeans were once again subjected this past Friday, to a well thought out, wrought out and delivered work of rhetoric. Our parliamentarians met in Belmopan for the annual reading of the budget for the fiscal year 2011/ 2012 and our Prime Minister was in fine oratorical form. For anyone impressed with “flash and splendor” or “gilded lilies”, Mr. Barrow’s presentation was indeed a good one. For those of us living the reality of current times, Mr. Barrow could very well have been speaking French.

Derived from the French word bougette, a budget is defined as an organizational plan stated in monetary terms. As read in Belmopan, it is an exercise that is supposed to reveal to the people how much money we expect to have and how much we will need to spend to get us through the coming year. The “short point” is that, according to the Prime Minister’s accounts and accounting, we are running some S46 million in the red (no pun intended). From a mathematical aspect, the budget was on the money; in other words, the figures add up. According to the budget, we are collecting from taxes, etc., $843 million and we need to spend $889 million. Subtract one from the other and yes, the figures are correct. Interestingly enough, in doing a side by side comparison of what the Prime Minister articulated and what was actually on paper, Channel Five found that Mr. Barrow had conveniently neglected to mention an additional necessary expenditure of some $63 million dollars. That is a sizable sum to just forget to mention and would then actually bring the total deficit to a whopping $109 million dollars. Can somebody say, “more taxes!”

To listen to Mr. Barrow, one would believe that Belize is indeed “ready to fly” and that things are looking nice and rosy. For who, though? The reality is that out here in the streets, things are quite dread. The unemployment figures which the Prime Minister could not reveal, is speculated to be hovering close to twenty percent and cost of living continues to spiral out of control. Businesses are closing down, people are losing their homes and our major industries remain in a perpetual state of uncertainty.

Mr. Barrow tossed around some impressive figures but at some point, we will have to demand reasonable reconciliation with actual accomplishments. Each year we hear monies being allotted for the same old projects. When, for instance, will we see an actual “upgrading of rural and feeder roads in the sugar belt”. Once again, it is prominent in the budget and has been for several years. And did we not just borrow money for the Kendall Bridge and for the road to Jalacte? If the loan money is not factored into the list of revenues, then how can we factor the cost into the sum of expenditures?

What is needed is a proper system of accounting. In this age of advanced technology, it cannot be that difficult. If for example, we apply the additional yield of $1.2 million from crude tax to a “social protection program” in the Cayo District, whichever department is in charge of disbursing this money can create a simple spreadsheet numeration of all transactions. The same can be done for the $4.4 million allotted for “low income housing project” in Belize City. Every government department has, or should have, a functioning website on which such data can be easily posted and accessed. What with the freedom of information act indelibly inscribed in our constitution. Accountability and transparency cannot be just buzz words to bolster political campaigns but must be an exercise for good governance. Was this not the very platform on which this Dean Barrow government was elected?

What is also needed, along with a reading of the current budget, is a revisit to the previous budget. We should then be able to compare any commitments made, to any actual projects completed. Notwithstanding that all figures are mostly projections and forecast, it would be easy to construct a model that could detail what events, strategies and plans were realized and which were thwarted and why. In this age where the technology cheaply exists to readily make any government transaction transparent and accountable, it nonsensical for us to simply rely upon a bunch of figures read off with no evidence to their credentials. We can and should do better.

As was expected, Mr. Barrow arrogated all blame for whatever shortfalls existed in his budget, to the dreaded “superbond”. Enough already, Mr. Barrow, please! The PUP alone did not accumulate and burden Belize with this debt! It was a combination of all debts accrued to that point; including those racked up by two previous UDP governments. Until the PUP facilitated the discovery of oil and gave wings to a fledging tourism industry, our leaders had no option but to borrow. And to continue to suggest that we have nothing to show is disingenuous. Roads and bridges were built, major investment was made in education, health care and security and light and potable water was made available to a large percentage of our population.

In taking office, the UDP inherited was a booming tourism industry and an oil industry that was just beginning to ripen for decent financial yields. What Mr. Barrow and his cohorts did was to basically cripple tourism and confine us to a contract that gives away most of the oil money under a ceiling of $90 a barrel. It was interesting then to hear Mr. Barrow refer to rising world oil prices as some “Damocles sword” that threatens to turn advantage into adversity. If above $90 per barrel spells adversity, then why in heaven’s name did we hinge our benefits on that number? Should we not be rejoicing instead?

It is obvious that Dean Barrow lives in a different Belize than the rest of us. He is insulated by his millions and rest comfortable in a well feathered nest. Mr. Barrow should try visiting Southside instead of Savannah, Mesop instead of Moscow and reality instead of imagery. It is a real world out here Mr. Barrow and one with which you obviously have not the slightest of connection. God save Belize!

G. Michael Reid
Citizen of the world

#402899 - 03/22/11 08:35 AM Re: Friday is Budget Day; no new taxes says PM [Re: Marty]  
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No New Taxes! Just old ones going up; Fuel at the Pump skyrockets

There’s more bad news that will put a licking on drivers and consumers. So if your tank is empty or half full, you’ll want to fill up before midnight because fuel prices will take a huge jump. At the presentation of the 2011-2012 Budget on March eleventh, Prime Minister Dean Barrow announced that taxes would be waived on a single shipment of fuel, avoiding an increase of over one dollar on prices at the pump. Well, that was ten days ago, and now that the next shipment has arrived prices of fuel are hovering close to the twelve dollars at the pump. The biggest hike is in the price of premium, which goes up one dollar twelve cents to sell at eleven dollars, fifty-one cents. Regular gasoline goes up by one dollar eleven cents, putting the new price at eleven dollars twenty-four cents. Diesel, which was once considered the affordable option, will be selling at ten dollars and sixty cents after a ninety-nine cent increase. It’s merciless and we do note that in some Caribbean countries, governments are putting initiatives in place to bring relief to weary consumers.

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