Features — 23 October 2015 — by Rowland A. Parks
PUP launches “Power to the People” manifesto

BELIZE CITY, Wed. Oct. 21, 2015–This morning the Opposition People’s United Party (PUP) launched its 2015-2019 Power to the People manifesto at its Independence Hall headquarters, where 30 of the 31 PUP standard bearers who are contesting the November 4 general elections were present.

PUP Leader Francis Fonseca spoke about his party’s 10-point manifesto captioned “Urgent Matters.”

In its introduction, Fonseca writes, “This manifesto is being presented at a time of great uncertainty. In our 34 years of independence, our neighbor to the west has become more belligerent in its unfounded claim to our country.

“The hard work of the previous PUP administrations that consolidated our security and achieved Guatemalan recognition of our sovereignty has been jeopardized by the UDP government. Their irresponsible action of appeasement, in the face of aggression at the Sarstoon River, has created an unacceptable appearance of land cession in the south of our country.”

Fonseca told the packed Independence Hall, “The next PUP government will work tirelessly to make your life better.”

“I know that some of you have serious doubts about political parties and politicians. You are uncertain about what choice to make on November 4. We understand; we respect that concern, but I say to you today, the one thing you know for sure is that Barrow and the UDP will not change. They will only become more arrogant, more corrupt and more incompetent,” Fonseca said.

Fonseca said that the last eight years in Opposition have taught the PUP many important lessons: “It has made us stronger and made us better people. We ask you, the Belizean people, with the greatest humility, to give us the opportunity to work for you, to serve you. We will not fail you. I will not fail you,” he pledged.

“After eight years of one-man rule, eight years of corruption and nepotism, eight years of gaping inequality, eight years of massive debt, senseless crime and violence, eight years of failure to protect our national sovereignty and defend our territorial integrity, after eight years, Belize needs a change, a new beginning, a new team who will serve you and work for you,” Fonseca pitched.

“It is time for all Belizeans to take a stand,” Fonseca continued. “Power by one man is dictatorship. Power to the people is true democracy.”

Fonseca read out the 10-point agenda of the PUP’s Power to the People manifesto, saying, “Your next PUP government commits to the following: To create 25,000 jobs; No to the ICJ; Roll out of the NHI nationwide; Free education from pre-school to 6th form; Freehold title to first- time home owners at the age of 18 years; Reduce GST from 12.5 % to 10%; Appoint the 13th Senator; Abolish income tax; A quality affordable house project; and Enact a government reform agenda within the 1st 100 days.”

After outlining the 10 “Urgent Matters” in his party’s manifesto, the PUP Leader said, “We believe that [the manifesto] truly represents a planned vision to move our country forward and to free our country from the power of one man and to give back power to the people.”

After a series of “power to the people” chants, Fonseca left the podium, as reporters scrambled to get a further word from him about how his government, if the PUP is elected, would go about fulfilling its manifesto promises.

Fonseca was asked how the PUP would carry out some of its manifesto promises when they don’t know the financial status of the country at present.

“All of our promises are based on sound analysis and the potential we believe the economy has for growth, so all of that was taken into consideration,” Fonseca replied. He said that in growing an economy there are really only three factors that can be taken into account. “We have to also attract investment, both domestic and foreign into the country, and there has to be tax reform to free-up capital in the country,” he said.

“And that underpins the commitments that we have made. In each and every case we are able to have the resources necessary to carry out those commitments,” Fonseca explained.

Fonseca added, in referring to the PUP’s manifesto promise to provide free education from the primary school level to sixth form, “When I was the Minister of Education, we carried out that analysis already of what it would cost. It would cost about 3 million dollars at the primary school level, about 8 million dollars at high school, and around 12 million dollars at the tertiary level, because tertiary level education is the most expensive. So we are looking at something like 23 million dollars in addition to the existing education budget.”

Fonseca pointed out that the PUP would be a more efficient government when compared to all the waste that has been going on since 2008 under the government of Prime Minister Dean Barrow.

“We will cut back on waste. There will be a lot of cost savings, and all of that combined with economic growth, with export-led growth, with foreign and domestic investment and tax reform will provide a formula for moving the country forward and putting these commitments in place for the Belizean people,” Fonseca pointed out.

“A new PUP government will be able to resolve a lot of the matters that are now in currency, such as the salary negotiations deadlock at the University of Belize, because the parties involved in those issues have already held discussions with us”, Fonseca disclosed.

On a question about the more than 1,000 banana farm workers at Maya King whose jobs hang in the balance, Fonseca said it was the PUP who started the banana industry and they understand how the industry works.

“We are prepared to dialogue with Fyffes and all other stakeholders in the industry. There is a formula that is in place that could protect the interest of the workers in the banana industry,” Fonseca said.

Fonseca was asked how he anticipated the PUP would fare in the elections, and he replied that he was not one for making predictions, but he projected that the PUP will win at least 18 seats to form the next government.

VIEW MANIFESTO BELOW BY SCROLLING THE PDF FILE.

 

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