BELMOPAN, Fri. Mar. 9, 2018– Leader of the Opposition (PUP), Hon. John Briceño, the Orange Walk East area representative, pounced on the budget of Prime Minister Dean Barrow immediately after leaving the chamber of the House of Representatives, where PM Barrow had just presented his government’s revenue and expenditures for the 2018-2019 fiscal year, known formally as the General Revenue and Appropriation Bill, which went through two readings today.
PM Barrow described his $1.83 billion budget as, “Maintaining Steadiness; Consolidating Stability; Advancing Growth”, but in the view of Hon. Briceño, “it’s a lifeless budget with no glitter and no substance.”
When the Leader of the Opposition was reminded about the remark the Prime Minister made yesterday, Thursday, at his press conference, that the UDP would win a fourth term in government, Briceño lashed out.
“…he could say a lot of things. It’s like his budget. The Prime Minister was known as always talk, about all glitter and no substance. Well, today, it’s no glitter and no substance, because there is nothing in that budget. It’s lifeless. You see nothing,” Briceño declared.
The Opposition leader added, “He talks nothing about crime, about the social ills that are affecting us. He is talking about him being the enabler. The only enablers that he has done are some UDP millionaires that have been profiling on television. I don’t know what the Prime Minister is talking about — a fourth term? Well, if they are so confident, bring it on [the general elections].”
Briceño was asked if he thinks that the data service tax that the PM introduced would raise enough revenue to balance the budget and allow for government spending.
“When it comes to the issue of data, or access to internet, that has been the most fast growing sector of the telecommunications industry, including the cable industry; in the cable industry, there is hardly any growth. People are moving more to data.
“So basically what the Prime Minister is doing now is putting in new tax on the Belizean people, especially the middle class and the low-income class, who are struggling; access to internet or data is a necessity,” Briceño replied.
“Every child that goes to school, when they go home, they need to have internet, and now what is the Prime Minister doing is taxing those families, taxing those children in the family are going to have even more trouble. The Prime Minister promised the cane farmers three hundred thousand dollars to be able to fix the sugar farms; they haven’t gotten that money yet.
“This budget is bogus. It’s a lifeless budget; it is no glitter and no substance,” the Opposition leader said.