The budget speech was titled, “Bettering People, Building Belize – A Budget For All” .
The Prime Minister started by comparing Belize to its Caribbean counterparts, saying that in Belize, overall growth performance improved in Trinidad and Tobago and in Belize in contrast to most of the rest of the Community where economic activity was flat or actually contracted.
Average inflation in CARICOM was 2.5 percent while in Belize it is 0.5 percent and that Foreign Reserves increased only in Belize, Trinidad and Tobago and the EC Currency Union.
He spoke specifically about the fact that Belize is giving wage increases when elsewhere there are lay off and wage freezes.
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow- Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Economic Development
“There are massive Public Sector layoffs in Barbados, and wage freezes in Jamaica, St Lucia and the Grenadines. Now, compare that, Mr. Speaker, to the paradisaical situation in our country where teachers and public officers with this Budget, Mr. Speaker, are receiving the nectar of a not less than 5 percent salary increase on top of the annual 2.5 percent increment. Altogether this translates into around 34 million dollars more that this Government is finding, (just this year alone, for its employees). Truly 2014 is a sort of annuls mirabilis, a year of miracles under this United Democratic Party Government. Unfortunately, notwithstanding Government’s extraordinary munificence, there seems to be, in some quarters, ingratitude “sharper than a serpent’s tooth”. But we will not allow that to rain on our grand raise-of-pay parade”.
The Prime Minister went into more details regarding this fiscal year’s Salary Adjustment and the Annual Increments. He said that in total, those will yield a total adjustment of over 7.5 %! And at a total cost of almost $34 million dollars.
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow: “During the six years of our administration, since February of 2008, not a single dollar of expensive commercial debt has been contracted on behalf of the Belizean people. Instead, Government has courted bilateral and multilateral lenders whose credit is at concessionary interest rates. Servicing the public debt during FY 2014/20 15 will cost $92 million. This is $21 million or 19 % less than the cost of servicing the public debt in Fiscal Year 2007/2008 when the other Party left office. When we came to power in 2008, 17 cents of every dollar of current revenue was spent on servicing debt. Six years later and as a result of scrupulous debt management strategies, that figure has been reduced to 10 cents. Our debt policies have taken down the average interest rate on the aggregate stock of public debt by a stunning 30%”.
Many of those teachers were outside holding a demonstration in front of the national assembly.