Belize: Prime Minister of Belize John Briceno issued a statement over the Government’s Estimates of Revenues and Expenditure for the Fiscal Year 2021/2022.
I rise to present the Government’s Estimates of Revenues and Expenditure for the Fiscal Year 2021/2022 and report on the National Budget’s performance for the current Fiscal Year 2020/2021.
This is the first budget for the 5-year cycle 2021-2025, the first also for my Administration — coming to office, as we did, on the thrust of a ‘wave election’ on 11th November 2020.
That unique mandate was ratified by an almost unmatchable margin less than four months later, in the municipal elections of March 3 of this year.
With just 31 additional votes in the mayoral race and 23 polls in the polls for the counsellor in San Ignacio/Santa Elena’s twin towns, our Party would have secured 67 of the 67 seats available instead of 65.
Along with these historic endorsements have come immense responsibilities, which obligate us to rise to the demands of the Constitution, our Manifesto, and the national interest. And it is to that national interest that this revenue-collection and spending process -– the Budget process — must do justice.
That this Budget Presentation comes at a juncture of unprecedented national crisis is indisputable.
Belize is facing the most severe economic, fiscal and debt crisis.
And though the health crisis caused by Covid-19 is currently in remission, with the virus’s spread largely controlled, the recent ‘resurgence’ that is being seen in Europe, and closer to home, in Antigua and Barbuda, and elsewhere, should caution us that our substantial progress can quickly be reversed. To state the obvious, Madam Speaker, the virus is ever-present, the risk to Belize and Belizeans remains real. We must stay vigilant.
How we navigate through this great crisis; the extent to which discipline, sacrifice and solidarity prevail; the efficacy of our home-crafted Medium Term Economic & Fiscal Recovery Plan will, in sum, determine the well-being of our people, the resiliency of the public finances and the durability of the value of the Belizean dollar.
It is worth noting that the amount required to meet our constituencies’ demands typically outpaces budget funding even in regular times. However, the mismanagement and mess we inherited have widened the gap between these two amounts to an almost unmanageable degree.
At the outset, I recognize the many contributors to this delicate, consensus-building budget process, starting naturally with my Cabinet and Parliamentary colleagues. They have confronted this unprecedented national emergency with poise and with patience.
And I also thank the social partners, with whom there have been genuine consultations. I acknowledge the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Belize Business Bureau, the Council of Churches and the NGO community.
I applaud the Joint Unions for their extensive contributions and those many public officers whose execution of their duties had an impact in ways small and large upon the participatory exercise of composing this budget.
The National Budget is a Budget about all the people — working people and businesspeople -– because from its birth to its burial, the National Budget touches all Belizeans in some way or the other. And this budget, in its plain speak, realistic goals and honesty will usher in a new time in our national development and with an optimism that the shared sacrifices we make today will result in all of us being able to triumph tomorrow.