Opposition Leader says budget is “Disconnected and Divorced from the Belizean reality”.

While the topic of the Guatemala issue was addressed first in the house meeting this morning, the reason for the assembly today was for the budget debate. That debate got on the way with the Leader of the Opposition who referred to the 2013/2014 budget as “Disconnected and Divorced from the Belizean reality”.

Francis Fonseca – Opposition Leader:
vlcsnap-2013-03-21-21h15m36s235It is a budget disconnected and divorced from the Belizean reality.  Again this year, Mr Speaker, the 6th Budget in a row, Belizean people are treated to a full menu of chest-pumping, whining, and editing called record. The bottom line here, Mr Speaker, is that the Budget continues a five year pattern of excuses, cruel empty rhetoric. Loud mouth, dirty mouth and sharp tongue, is all we have gotten from the UDP for five years.  And this Budget for the fiscal year 2013/2014 does nothing to change course.

Hon. Francis Fonseca says that the budget does not address any of the surmounting social issues affecting the country such as poverty, crime and unemployment.

Francis Fonseca – Opposition Leader:
[There are] some 30,000 Belizeans actively seeking a job, and not finding one, Mr Speaker.  Loud mouth and sharp tongue don’t create jobs.  Mr Prime Minister, where is your jobs plan?  Poverty too is on the rise, and today under the UBP some 148,000 Belizeans are living on less than five dollars and fifty cents per day for food. Loud mouth and sharp tongue won’t lift our people out of poverty, Mr Prime Minister.  Where is your plan to reduce poverty?  Crime and violence continue to eat away at our social fabric.  Law abiding citizens live in fear.  Investment and economic growth are negatively impacted.  There is a growing distrust in our system of justice.

Fonseca also spoke on the Superbond saying that the current government has been using its “blame game” of the bond for Political mileage. The Leader of the Opposition then went on to state areas how their government had utilized monies from the bond which they had signed.

Francis Fonseca – Opposition Leader:
It is politically for the UDP and their apologists to ignore the facts and continue to perpetuate their false propaganda, that we have nothing to show for our debts.  They conveniently ignore the fact that between 1998 and 2007 Belize was visited by Hurricanes Mitch, Kieth, Iris and Tropical Storm Chantal. which wreaked economic havoc on our agricultural and tourism sectors, at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Travel the country, Mr Prime Minister,  and take your Ministers with you.  The real people in real communities will tell you that, for the great majority of them, the last time there was any investment in their community it was under the Peoples United Party.

He went on to boldly say that Government was only able to get a restructuring deal due to the PUP’s long standing relationship with Co-Chairman of the Bond group Mr. Mediratta.

Francis Fonseca – Opposition Leader:
Let’s be very very clear.  The Barrow restructuring team, led by the Prime Minister’s new red-eyed boy, His Excellency Mark Espat was a disastrous failure.  
The initial options were suddenly rejected, and what we ended up accepting was a far far cry from any of the original indicative scenarios.  The truth is, Mr Speaker, that if it were not for the good faith of the Chairman of the Bondholders Committee, Mr AJ Mediratta, and his long-standing relationship with Belize, developed over many years under the Peoples United Party administration, Superbond 2038 would not have got done.

In closing Fonseca made some suggestions of things that the Government should work on, including the freedom of speech within the media.

Francis Fonseca – Opposition Leader:
Let us together enshrine in the Constitution, Mr Speaker, that requirement.  Let us work together to set a fixed date for elections, and review the term of office of future Governments. People want it.  Let us put in place an elected Senate.  Let us review the structure and composition of the Election and Boundaries Commission. Let us review, Mr Speaker, the stock-sharing composition and powers of the Public Accounts Committee.  Let us pass, Mr Speaker, a Freedon of the Press Law, that guarantees free speech and protects whistle-blowers who expose abuse, acts of corruption, and waste of resources. Let us do these things together, Prime Minister.  Let us work together to appoint an independent commission to review Immigration policy and laws.
And Mr Speaker, it is time for Government to deliver the salary increase our teachers, nurses, doctors, Police Officers, BDF soldiers, and other public officers, have been demanding and deserve.

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