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|San Pedro Daily||Tuesday
March 11, 2014
|Front Page||Weather||foto of the day||Regional News||Classified Ads|
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Prime Minister Presents
Budget for New Fiscal Year
Prime Minister Dean Barrow today presented his 2014/2015 budget under the theme “Bettering people, building Belize – a budget for all.” In his remarks the Prime Minister referred to the Caribbean Development’s Bank regional report for February 11, 2014.
RT. HON. DEAN BARROW
“For 2013 Tourism was down in the traditional powerhouses of the Bahamas, Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada and St Vincent and the Grenadines. In Belize it was up just under 6 percent in both the stay over and cruise sectors. Overall growth performance improved in Trinidad and Tobago and in Belize. This is in sharp contrast to most of the rest of the Community where economic activity was flat or actually contracted. Examples are Barbados, Jamaica, St Lucia, Antigua and the BVI. Average inflation in CARICOM was 2.5 percent while in Belize it is 0.5 percent. In the Bahamas the jobless rate, as measured in May of 2013, was 16.2 percent. In Jamaica it was 15.9 percent through July, and in St Lucia it reached a whopping 23.2 percent. Here it was down in September over 2 percent, from the previous year, to 14.2 percent. Foreign Reserves increased only in Belize, Trinidad and Tobago and the EC Currency Union. They fell in the Bahamas, Barbados, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica and Suriname. There are massive Public Sector layoffs in Barbados, and wage freezes in Jamaica, St Lucia and Grenada. Now compare that, Mr Speaker, to the paradisiac situation in our country where Teachers and Public Officers with this Budget, this Budget, Mr Speaker, are receiving the nectar of a not less than 5 percent salary increase on top of the annual 2.5 percent increment. Altogether this translates into around 34 million dollars more that this Government is finding, just this year alone, for its employees.”
The Prime Minister said Central Government is projecting a small primary surplus for the upcoming fiscal year.
RT. HON. DEAN BARROW
“For Fiscal Year (FY) 2013/2014 the Central Government is projecting a small primary surplus of $33 million, the equivalent of 1.0 percent of GDP, and an overall deficit of $74 million or 2.3 percent of GDP. The projected primary surplus is in line with the budgeted target of 1.0 percent of GDP, while the projected overall deficit amounts to a slight deterioration from the budgeted deficit target of 1.8 percent of GDP. Total revenue and grants are projected to be $901 million, some $28 million above budget, driven largely by un-budgeted inflows of $22 million from licenses and fees from the IBC and Shipping Registries, and from $7.0 million in unfrozen dividends from Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL). Tax Revenue from traditional sources (Import Duties, Business Tax, and GST) together increased by $24 million, but this was offset by weaker than expected performance in other Non-Tax Revenue areas, particularly in the repayments on old loans. On the Expenditure side, total expenditure for FY 2013/14 is projected at $975 million, which is $41 million above budget. Current expenditure increased marginally by only $2 million, but there was a sharp rise of over $39 million in Development Expenditure. Driving up the capital spending was the large unbudgeted outlay of almost $15 million for street and drain rehabilitation countrywide and for sugar road repairs after the incessant rains experienced over the last several months. Also adding pressure to capital spending were the cost of professional and legal services amounting to $9 million connected to the debt restructuring and to the on-going litigation on the nationalization of the two utilities. Rounding out the additional expenditure was the outlay of $10 million to purchase equity in the newly established National Bank of Belize.”
As it relates to debt liability management, Barrow said their approach is different than that taken by his predecessor.
RT. HON. DEAN BARROW
At the end of FY 2013/2014, the overall public and publicly guaranteed debt, both external and domestic, is projected to be at $2.5 billion, the equivalent of 78.2 percent of GDP. Domestic liabilities account for 16 percent or $404 million of the total debt, and the remaining 84 percent or $2.1 billion is classed as external obligations. For the upcoming FY 2014/2015, the Ministry of Finance forecasts that the overall public debt will fall to 75.9 percent of GDP.
Six years ago, the public debt was a startling, 84 percent of GDP. During the six years of our Administration, since February of 2008, not a single dollar of expensive commercial debt has been contracted on behalf of the Belizean people. Instead, Government has courted bilateral and multilateral lenders whose credit is at concessionary interest rates. Servicing the public debt during FY 2014/2015 will cost $92 million. This is $21 million or 19 percent less than the cost of servicing the public debt in FY 2007/2008 when the other Party left office.”
He said the outlook for 2014 is full of promise.
RT. HON. DEAN BARROW
“The Central Bank is projecting a GDP growth of 2.0 percent in 2014 as the primary sector returns to positive output, construction and tourism hold steady, and Government’s capital spending program expands. Grain production should see a considerable rebound during the year and output of the major export crops is also anticipated to rise. Improved acreage practices in the sugarcane industry should increase sugar production, and already – early in this crop – the factory has set a one-day record for the amount of cane processed. Citrus output is also expected to bounce back as further progress, including by way of additional Government/BAHA investment, is made in the containment of citrus greening. Moderate increases are projected for output of shrimp and whole fish, both of which did well last year.”
The Prime Minister also spoke of the salary adjustment for teachers and public officers.
RT. HON. DEAN BARROW
“Under the proposed framework for Salary Adjustment for Public Officers, Teachers, and Senior Managers, for the three-year period 2014 to 2016, the Government committed to applying fifty percent of the difference in actual recurrent revenue performance between successive fiscal years toward an annual salary raise, with the first to take effect from 1st April 2014. The concept is that the Public Officers and Teachers would share in one half of the incremental increases, which increases should occur not only because the economy is growing but also as a consequence of redoubled efficiency and collection efforts on the part of the Public Officers. While this proposal did not meet with the full concurrence of all those comprising the staff side, in particular the leadership of the BNTU, the Government maintains that it is fair and generous and the best it can responsibly do. The fact is that with such a formula Government is taking substantial risks, as Government is in effect making a permanent commitment against what could well turn out to be only a temporary rise in revenues. As the outturn numbers suggest, though, for this year at least there appears to be an increase of almost $44 million between FY 2012/2013 and FY 2013/2014. Applying the framework, we then needed to set aside some $22 million toward the salary adjustment. And this is precisely what we have done. We have allocated the sum of $22 million in the Capital II Budget of the Ministry of Finance only for this purpose.”
New Horizons equipment
to begin arriving
in Belize March 8
Belizeans will begin noticing an influx of U.S. military equipment traveling from the Port of Belize to various locations throughout the country in support of New Horizons beginning March 8.
The shipment, which left Cape Canaveral, Fla., on March 1, includes various construction and maintenance vehicles (tractor trailers, dump trucks, excavators, pickups, forklifts, backhoes and gas trucks) and a variety of shipping containers that will be used to support exercise requirements.
The New Horizons Logistics Port Team in charge of coordinating air and sea shipments have been coordinating with the Belizean government, Port of Belize officials, U.S. Transportation Command and various military and civilian entities to ensure logistical success since last August.
“The Belizean Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education and the Belize Defence Force have been pivotal in assisting us with all of our New Horizons logistical requirements,” said Master Sgt. Scott Stambaugh, a native of La Grange, Mo., and the 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) and New Horizons Belize transportation manager. “We worked hand-in-hand with Belizean government officials, who took us to all of the project sites, made recommendations on what they wanted at each of the schools and clinics, and spoke with city officials to get roadways built and modifications made to property to accommodate transportation requirements.”
Exercise personnel affiliated with New Horizons will be working at several locations throughout Belize with the New Horizons team headquartered at Price Barracks near Belize City.
There will be multiple Medical Readiness Training Exercises in Belize City, Corozal and in areas surrounding Punta Gorda.
During these Medical Readiness Training Exercises, teams of medical doctors and specialists with equipment and supplies will provide medical treatment to the local population. The doctors and specialists are comprised of U.S., Canadian and Belizean professionals. In addition, civil engineers from both the U.S. and Belize will construct a hospital ward in Belmopan, three schools in Belize City, and one school in Hattieville. The schools will support furthering the education of children in the country.
This is the second year in a row that the New Horizons Exercise has taken place in Belize. Last year, during New Horizons, members of the Belize Defence Force, contractors throughout Belize, and airmen, soldiers and Marines worked side-by-side to build community centers, medical clinics and schools, and to reinforce hurricane shelters.
“Our relationship with the government of Belize, Port of Belize personnel and local citizens has grown tremendously over the past two years,” said Staff Sgt. Eliseo Guerrero, a San Antonio native, and the 12th Air Force (AFSOUTH) and New Horizons lead logistical planner. “Going back to a place where everyone from government workers to various servers, housekeepers and business owners remember your face and greet you with open arms is when you know that you’ve made a difference … our partnerships have grown into true friendships that will stand the test of time.”
The New Horizons was launched in the 1980s and is an annual joint humanitarian assistance exercise that U.S. Southern Command conducts with a partner nation in Central America, South America or the Caribbean.
The exercise improves joint training readiness of U.S. and partner nation civil engineers, medical professionals and support personnel through humanitarian assistance activities.
Police are searching for RAFAEL JUAREZ
in connection with the shooting death
of Jeffery Eiley.
He is no longer on the island.
Cold blooded murderer on the loose!
If you have any info regarding his whereabouts please share with us!
Help us attain justice for the loss
of our fallen brother!
Our March SACNW meeting will be held
on Wednesday, March 12 at
Lone Star Grill and Cantina
starting at 7pm.
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Inquiries to Editor.SanPedroDaily@gmail.com