Features — 23 October 2015 — by Nuri Muhammad

BELIZE CITY, Wed. Oct. 21, 2015–UDP party leader, Dean Barrow, and twenty-eight of the thirty-one standard bearers of that party, along with their supporters and the media gathered today at the Biltmore Plaza Hotel in Belize City for the launch of the party’s manifesto, titled “The Best Is Yet To Come: UDP Third Term Agenda 2015-2020.” This is the party’s third manifesto in eight years and eight months, as it seeks to win an unprecedented third term.

The event was chaired by Alberto August, Chairman of the party, who did the introduction of select speakers who spoke specifically about certain sections of the document.

Douglas Singh, Chairman of the Public Policy and Platform Committee, was the first to present on the consultative process used by the party to come up with the largest manifesto ever to be published by the UDP. Singh said that the consultative process included the private sector forum, and focus groups from various sectors which make the document worthy of all stakeholders. Singh said that the manifesto reflects that the party “intends to continue building on our past success of the last two terms.”

Party Leader, Dean Barrow, in his introductory comments said that reading the manifesto will make persons aware of how much has been done in the last four years by his administration.

He said the first part of the document deals with the structural changes they will make in the operation of government.

“We will improve how people are treated when they try to access government services. There will be a marked change in how government will deliver service at a personal level. We recognize that when it comes to the interface of the ordinary citizen with a particular government agency for service, it leaves a lot to be desired because the bureaucracy is totally ineffective; the human element is too often missing”, he said.

He observed that “the UDP came to government on a platform of good governance and we concede that more could have been done. We now make a commitment that more will be done. Transparency must be taken to new levels in this next term.”

He spoke of reforming the Public Financial Management System by the enactment of several enabling bills to promote basic principles that preside over how Government performs the procurement of goods, works and services while providing guidance to public officials responsible for the acquisition and disposal of assets.

Among other things, Barrow mentioned a Public Sector Investment Bill; a Public Finance Management Bill and also, a Public Debt Management Bill to establish regulations under which national, local or government or any public corporations may borrow and the conditions under which the State may issue debt securities to regularize arrears, issue guarantees, lend funds and enter into supplier’s credit agreements and finance lease agreements.

He said that a Debt Management Office will be located within the Ministry of Finance. The whole idea, he said, is to ensure that the public debt is kept in focus. He also proposed that if elected his administration will “set a debt ceiling.”

Other presenters included Dr. Carla Barnett, UDP standard bearer for the Freetown Division, who spoke about the economic section of the manifesto. She pointed to economic indicators such as, “flattening of inflation to zero and the massive increase in foreign reserves”, and said that the economic stimulus which created those results will continue unabated.

Patrick Faber, UDP standard bearer for the Collet Division and former Minister of Education, presented the UDP’s plans for the education sector and pointed out that 48% of the population is under twenty-five years old and they should be government’s priority. Education is a right, he said.

Walter Garbutt, UDP standard bearer for Stann Creek West, spoke about the infrastructural projects that have been carried out. He said that this has been a “hallmark” of the UDP since 2012 and it will continue to go nationwide if the UDP is the next government. Elodio Aragon, Jr., UDP standard bearer for Orange Walk East, spoke on the Human Development sector while Dr. Omar Figueroa, UDP standard bearer for Cayo North, spoke on the portions of the manifesto which address the environment and sustainable development.



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