Prime Minister Dean Barrow this year used his Independence Day speech to announce the renaming of the Western and Northern Highways in honor of two of the country’s national heroes. The Western Highway is now called the George Price Highway, while the road between Belize City and the northern border is now the Phillip S.W. Goldson highway. But the highway renaming announcement was not the only feature of the Prime Minister’s Independence Day address. Mr. Barrow also used the occasion to speak on issues of national importance, such as the economy and particular the subject of Foreign Direct Investments.
Right Honorable Dean Barrow
“Exhibit one in this context is the two hundred million dollars investment of ASR in Belize’s Sugar Industry and the Green Tropic Project to plant cane in Cayo. Also, the Bowen Shrimp Farm is back up and running, thanks to significant foreign equity partnership. Our business out sourcing and near shoring initiative continues to pay dividends and there are now upwards of two thousand persons employed by the ever increasing foreign direct investment sponsored number of call centres. There is a magnificent tourism resurgence taking place which has seen an eight point five percent visitor increase between January and June of this year and sixteen and twenty three percent in July and August 2012 over 2011. This good news is to be topped off shortly by the Qatari Diar Sovereign Wealth Funds purchase of Caye Chapel; this will then lead to a Four Seasons branded five star hotel on the property. Talks proceed at pace with Turkish investors that plan to invest in both container and cruise ports in Belize. Wall Street Money wants to come in to plant thousands of acres of grain for export and for local feed. The cattle sweep has been completed in Blue Creek paving the way for legal livestock trade with Mexico. New and more lucrative marketing arrangements have been concluded by our banana farmers and the first of several small business development centres has been chartered by Government in the continuing effort to assist young entrepreneurs and grow the middle class.”
The Prime Minister also addressed the issue of crime and violence, calling them the stubbornness, most protracted of the problems confronting the nation. Mr. Barrow says that while the prevailing trend is for security initiatives to realize slight improvements, and then deteriorate again, the determination of his government remains steadfast to confront crime and violence head on.
Right Honorable Dean Barrow
“Indeed, in international forums Belize’s program of social interventions to try to stem gang violence has received rave reviews; now this might be cold comfort since the successes we have enjoyed have all turned out to be temporary but virtue doesn’t have to be its own reward; attracted by the quality of our efforts, one of the largest social violence reduction organizations in the world is coming to Belize to assist with funding and capacity building. Similarly, the Government of India has offered technical and operational assistance to our Ministry of National Security thus a well credentialed law and order expert from the sub-continent should be in post soon as advisor to the Belize Police Department. Meantime, our local sense of urgency and resolve has in no wise abated thus the Police are forming a number of additional specialized intelligence and operational unit in order to ramp up the continuing interdiction efforts. Likewise a Cabinet sub-committee has been appointed to work with Restore Belize on a new sustainable strategy for getting youth out of the hell hole of nihilism and violence that is gang life in Belize.”
The Prime Minister ended his Independence Day speech by saying that despite the blots and blights that blemish the Belizean society, there is no reason for lack of courage or the lack of effort.
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