The second day of the 2017-2018 Budget Debate before the 31-member House of Representatives went until almost 11:30 on Friday night.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow was only present for an hour and arrived at 8, then left, and arrived once more at 10:13pm when Cayo South representative Julius Espat was ending his presentation. The PM then closed the day’s proceedings with a 36 minute statement in which he focused his complaints on the Opposition leader Hon. John Briceno. As expected, the PM could not help himself on going into the gutter.

Screen_Shot_2017-03-27_at_6.42.39_PMRt. Honourable Dean Barrow -  Prime Minister of Belize

“Wish to make a point that is perhaps a little bit factitious and I don’t mean it to be in anyway insulting or worst scatological but I’ve noted that certain media houses in their shorthand reference of the Leader of the Opposition, employ the acronym LOO (Leader of Oppositon) presumably loo to describe him now loo is the British informal word for toilet unfortunately and I afraid that as he spoke it struck me that that is where the Leader’s rhetoric and statistics not is mine, rhetoric and statistics appeared to have been coming from the LOO.  But Madam Speaker if the Leader of the Opposition, not you, the Leader of the Opposition had been paying attention to detail instead of mumbling his usual indecipherable complaints at house meetings he would have recalled that as early as April 16th we amended the Customs and Excise Duty Act in so doing we removed import duty from these items and replace them by excise tax so that is all that happened thus the collection of import duty went down while the collection on the excise tax went up and it produced an almost a zero net result when you therefore look at the fact that together we budgeted as the total for taxes on trade and taxes on goods 674.9 million and you look at the budget book and you take account of the fact that we switched around in terms of import duty and excise the overall result is almost precisely that of the estimate it was all together it was 673.2 million as opposed to the budgeted 674.9 million so you got it completely wrong in terms of that number Sir. Another howler, you said that if the economy grow by an average of  2.1% for the last eight years it means that over the past eight years our standard of living has gone down by 16%, this is gobbling goga worst how can anyone equate the rate of economic growth with an increase with the poverty rate. Then Madan Speaker it makes comparison between UDP growth rates and PUP growth rates but he does this without any provision for inflation which was twice as high during the PUP term as it is under the UDP also in that connection recollect that PUP growth was manufactured and unreal as all the international agencies worth page to point out; it was artificial growth produced by the wild borrowing and criminal spending on crony projects and road that led to nowhere it was air sacks, artificial, bogus growth that is where the real bogus comes in.”

According to the Prime Minister, his party continues to enjoy the support of Belizeans. He arrived at that conclusion by the fact that the people of Belize are not protesting his administration.

Rt. Honourable Dean Barrow - Prime Minister of Belize

“The people of this country can trust and believe the UDP because by our works they know us. We had made our mistakes and at the Micro level faults have been revealed but at the strategic and leadership level, at the top where governance and administration are concern we have undoubtedly and visibly walked the straight and narrow. Unlike when those on the other side were in government no policy of this administration, no contract with foreign investors, no helping hand to sectors none of this has ever been designed or implemented with an eye to personal gain or the main chance instead we have striven mightily to keep our comeback with the poor with labor, with business, with the people that is why what has struck to me so forcefully is this; despite this tenth budget, despite the laws of attrition, despite an enviable degree of voter fatigue, despite a budget that is tighter than we would have liked no one was out there demonstrating against us, demonstration there was indeed but and I don’t know if this was sweet irony but the demonstration was against the opposition.”

The 2017/2018 budget with $88.1 million in new taxes measures will take effect in four days, on April 1st. Tax increases such as the 12.5% GST on light bills above $100, increases in excise tax on soft drinks, beer, stout and cement; and increased environmental tax are expected to increase the cost of living.

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