Two major political parties launch their manifesto
Saturday, October 31st, 2015
On Wednesday, October 21st the two main political parties in Belize, the People’s United Party (PUP) and the United Democratic Party (UDP) simultaneously launched their manifestos. The PUP 2015-2019 manifesto called ‘Power to the People’ was launched at the party’s Independence Hall Headquarters, where 30 of the 31 PUP standard bearers contesting the November 4th general elections were present. Meanwhile, the ruling party, the UDP, launched theirs at the Best Western Biltmore Plaza Hotel. The 2015-2020 UDP’s manifesto titled ‘The Best is Yet to Come’ is the party’s third agenda in over eight years as it attempts to make history by winning an unprecedented third term.
The PUP manifesto document addresses ten points that are relevant to the issues affecting the country. These include the creation of 25,000 jobs, no to taking the Belize – Guatemala territorial dispute to the International Court of Justice, rolling out National Health Insurance nationwide, free-education from pre-school to sixth form, freehold title to first time home owners at the age of 18 years, reduce General Sales Tax from 12.5% to 10%, appoint the 13th senator, abolish income tax, quality affordable housing project and enact a governance reform agenda within the first 100 days.
In his presentation, Fonseca pledged to reactivate the Integrity Commission and restructure the Public Accounts Committee. He also promised to repeal the illegal Petro Caribe Loans Act and the draconian Gun Law which has caused many innocent people to be jailed unjustly. Another point in their master plan is the abolition of the Gang Suppression Unit, internationalize the Belize-Guatemala controversy and increase the minimum wage to $4 per hour. The manifesto stressed that no one in the country should earn less than $200 dollars a week. The document went on to say that electrification and potable water will be provided to all remaining villages countrywide, the reinforcement of a new voters list and establish a National Indigenous People’s Commission.
When the UDP presented their manifesto, Prime Minister Dean Barrow stated that the Belizean people would become aware of all that his administration has done for the past four years. In his opening statement, PM Barrow indicated his commitment to improve how people are treated when they try to access government services. However, he emphasized that more needs to be done and that transparency will be taken to new levels in his third term.
The UDP manifesto highlighted many commitments that if elected for a historic third term will be executed to benefit the entire nation. These include the development of a Commercial Bight Port to support productive sector growth. The construction of a new international airport on Ambergris Caye and developing a special financing program through the Development Finance Corporation and National Bank for small businesses and small farmers. The document points out a special National Transportation Master Plan which will address the cost of movement of people and goods. There is also the plan to construct a road along the western border to stimulate the economy and serve as a natural deterrent against incursions. Under the next UDP government there will be the construction of 35 new schools from pre-school to high school. Another aspect that will be addressed is the topic of national security for which $70 million will be pumped into the security forces of the country and as well build the forward operation base at the Sarstoon. The manifest also talks about the development of science and technology, and the construction of three new hospitals in the Western Regional, San Pedro and Punta Gorda. The document continued by listing the UDP’s commitment to the welfare of the environment, stating there will be a mandatory recycling program and a restriction in the importation and use of non-biodegradable packaging.
Among other things, Barrow spoke about a Public Sector Investment Bill, a Public Finance Management Bill and also a Public Debt Management Bill. According to him, this will establish regulations under which national, local or government or any public corporation may borrow and the conditions under which the State may issue debt securities to regularize arrears. Such department will be within the Ministry of Finance. Barrow ended by mentioning that the whole idea is to ensure that the public debt is kept in focus.
Both agendas bring an array of plans for the well-being of the country and its people. The contract of the Opposition PUP with the people emphasized that their commitments are ‘Urgent Matters.’ Meanwhile the ruling UDP is assuring Belizeans, that better is coming and the country will see more progress in the future.
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