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Statement made by PM Hon. Dean Barrow at the Inaugural Ceremonies of the National Assembly

“Mr. Speaker, Madam President of the Senate, Honourable Members of both Houses, my Lord President of the Court of Appeal and other Justices of Appeal, my Lord Chief Justice, and other Justices of the Supreme Court, Your Excellencies of the Diplomatic Corp, Members of the Consular Corp, distinguished invited guests, ladies and gentlemen, fellow Belizeans, I borrow from the words of an American President who, surveying the wreckage of his predecessor’s administration scattered all across the political landscape, consoled his nation with the assurance: our national nightmare is over. (Applause)

With gratitude to the people of this country, I rise to report to you today, Mr. Speaker, that here in Belize finally our long nightfall too is lifted. Together with the shade of the poet, Raymond Hugh Barrow, we welcome the sun, once again a barefoot boy skipping across the sky. And we rejoice with him as he sounds his cry: get up, get up, the day is here, a new day is here. (Applause)

And it is all because, Mr. Speaker, from north to south, east to west, a nation fed up with the plunder of its resources, on February 7 declared enough is enough.

A people bludgeoned by abuse and lies jettisoned what must surely qualify as the foulest rule ever inflicted upon independent Belize, and at long last blew freedom’s trump.

Mr. Speaker, it was a coalition of the true hearted that won. It was a patriotic unity effort of the worker and the businessman, the teacher and the public officer. It was a joint enterprise of the media and civil society and all persons of goodwill that did away with the kleptocrats and recovered now for our country the moral, political, and social high ground.

February 7, 2008, was the battle to reclaim Belize, and the entire nation was the victor.
The United Democratic Party is, of course, the instrument by which the rescue of our country must now be made complete.

And, Mr. Speaker, we are fully conscious of the historic responsibility this entails. We are equally fully determined to discharge that responsibility to the very best of our ability. We know there is no room for backsliding. There is no room for failure. We know that there is no room for anything other than to walk the straightest, truest governance course ever on behalf of the people of this country, all the people of this country. (Applause) Of this, Mr. Speaker, I am determined, to this I am dedicated. And there is no power on earth that can keep me from serving Belize now with all my heart and with all my mind and with all my soul. (Applause)

I therefore use the solemn occasion of the inaugural sitting of the new parliament to repeat the solemn commitment of the United Democratic Party to fulfill its manifesto pledges.

We will lower GST. (Applause) We will reduce the cost of living. We will bring down the price of fuel. We will distribute land to the poor. We will expand free education. We will create jobs. (Applause)

We will do this, Mr. Speaker, while stamping out ministerial corruption and creating an administration properly policed by the Contractor General, the Auditor General, the Ombudsman, and the Upper House.

The core of our UDP manifesto, a comprehensive reform agenda anchored by recall mechanisms, term limits on the office of the Prime Minister, criminal sanctions for breaches of the Finance and Audit (Reform) Act, and an empowered, social partner controlled Senate, will be swiftly implemented. (Applause)

It is known to all, Mr. Speaker, that the cornerstone of the new government’s manifesto is integrity, the sacred pledge to provide openness, honesty and transparency in the operation of the administration. We know well, Mr. Speaker, what happens to the whole building when its cornerstone is undermined. We shall not let this nation down.

After all is said and done, Mr. Speaker, the task given Belize’s new government by the Belizean people may be summarized in just two words: national reconstruction. Let the work now begin. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.” (Applause)