Saturday, March 12, 2011


The 2011-2012 Budget was presented in the House of Representatives this morning. It is called Celebrating Growth, Sustaining Recovery and is to come online on April first. Before we get into the full figures, there’s a projected deficit, an increase in recurrent expenditure due to the wage bill and a slight increase in revenue and grants. But a few bright spots: as promised there will be no new taxes; taxes will be removed from kerosene and for good measure, the PM announced that an expected price hike in the price of fuel tonight, will be held-off. The flip side is that it is only a one time deal and prices will continue to go up thereafter.

Dean Barrow

“For effective this very day, we will signed into a law a statutory instrument that will zero rate the GST on gasoline, illuminating kerosene and diesel. In its place, we will increase the import duty on gasoline and diesel at a fixed specific rate amount. This amount will not be equivalent to what the GST take is currently—at over one hundred U.S. dollars per barrel, but it will be equivalent to what the GST take was when the world oil prices were in the U.S. eighty-five dollar per barrel range. In effect Mister Speaker, the Government will no longer gain, however slightly, from any rise in international oil prices. To repeat, we are in fact, rolling back the effective tax a little by import duty substitution at a rate equivalent to the GST position that existed in the idle of last year as oppose to the higher GST position that obtains now. But we go further, Mister Speaker, for we will not applied the makeup import duty to illuminating kerosene. This is mainly used by the poor and is currently import duty free. So we will now remove the GST from kerosene and replace it with nothing. There is a shipment of fuel due today and the pump prices were to increase by about a dollar twenty Belize per gallon for gasoline and a dollar Belize for kerosene and diesel. What government will do is, as I indicated, remove the GST, but for this shipment alone, we will not impose the substitute import duty. We will therefore make a huge revenue sacrifice. But I must caution, Mister Speaker, that this is a one time only gesture. When the next shipment after this arrives, around the end of March, it will have to be subject to the new import duty in lieu of GST. Because of what we’re doing and not imposing the GST or the substitute import duty, instead what will happen with the shipment coming in tonight, the price will go down to ten-thirty-nine for premium, ten-thirteen for regular, eight-thirty-six for kerosene and nine-sixty-one for diesel.”

John Briceño, Leader of the Opposition

John Briceño

“What he did skillfully, politically, is that he talked about not increasing the cost of fuel that would have gone up by about a dollar and twenty cents; but for one month. Obviously he is trying to remove that whole anger form the Belizean people with his budget—trying to find a way to ease that just for two weeks because as we all know shipments come in every two weeks. And he has already admitted that the price of fuel is going to go up in the next shipment that is going to come in.”

Barrow says that the government’s loss on the shipment of fuel is one million dollars.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


International Women's Day has been observed since in the early 1900's, a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies.
Great unrest and critical debate was occurring amongst women. Women's oppression and inequality was spurring women to become more vocal and active in campaigning for change. Then in 1908, 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights.
In accordance with a declaration by the Socialist Party of America, the first National Woman's Day (NWD) was observed across the United States on 28 February. Women continued to celebrate NWD on the last Sunday of February until 1913.
n 1910 a second International Conference of Working Women was held in Copenhagen. A woman named a Clara Zetkin (Leader of the 'Women's Office' for the Social Democratic Party in Germany) tabled the idea of an International Women's Day. She proposed that every year in every country there should be a celebration on the same day - a Women's Day - to press for their demands. The conference of over 100 women from 17 countries, representing unions, socialist parties, working women's clubs, and including the first three women elected to the Finnish parliament, greeted Zetkin's suggestion with unanimous approval and thus International Women's Day was the result.
Following the decision agreed at Copenhagen in 1911, International Women's Day (IWD) was honoured the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on 19 March. More than one million women and men attended IWD rallies campaigning for women's rights to work, vote, be trained, to hold public office and end discrimination. However less than a week later on 25 March, the tragic 'Triangle Fire' in New York City took the lives of more than 140 working women, most of them Italian and Jewish immigrants. This disastrous event drew significant attention to working conditions and labour legislation in the United States that became a focus of subsequent International Women's Day events. 1911 also saw women's 'Bread and Roses' campaign.

On the eve of World War I campaigning for peace, Russian women observed their first International Women's Day on the last Sunday in February 1913. In 1913 following discussions, International Women's Day was transferred to 8 March and this day has remained the global date for International Wommen's Day ever since. In 1914 further women across Europe held rallies to campaign against the war and to express women's solidarity.
On the last Sunday of February, Russian women began a strike for "bread and peace" in response to the death over 2 million Russian soldiers in war. Opposed by political leaders the women continued to strike until four days later the Czar was forced to abdicate and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote. The date the women's strike commenced was Sunday 23 February on the Julian calendar then in use in Russia. This day on the Gregorian calendar in use elsewhere was 8 March.
1918 - 1999
Since its birth in the socialist movement, International Women's Day has grown to become a global day of recognition and celebration across developed and developing countries alike. For decades, IWD has grown from strength to strength annually. For many years the United Nations has held an annual IWD conference to coordinate international efforts for women's rights and participation in social, political and economic processes. 1975 was designated as 'International Women's Year' by the United Nations. Women's organisations and governments around the world have also observed IWD annually on 8 March by holding large-scale events that honour women's advancement and while diligently reminding of the continued vigilance and action required to ensure that women's equality is gained and maintained in all aspects of life.
2000 and beyond
IWD is now an official holiday in Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (for women only), Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar (for women only), Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal (for women only), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia. The tradition sees men honouring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc with flowers and small gifts. In some countries IWD has the equivalent status of Mother's Day where children give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers.
The new millennium has witnessed a significant change and attitudinal shift in both women's and society's thoughts about women's equality and emancipation. Many from a younger generation feel that 'all the battles have been won for women' while many feminists from the 1970's know only too well the longevity and ingrained complexity of patriarchy. With more women in the boardroom, greater equality in legislative rights, and an increased critical mass of women's visibility as impressive role models in every aspect of life, one could think that women have gained true equality. The unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women's education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men.
However, great improvements have been made. We do have female astronauts and prime ministers, school girls are welcomed into university, women can work and have a family, women have real choices. And so the tone and nature of IWD has, for the past few years, moved from being a reminder about the negatives to a celebration of the positives.
Annually on 8 March, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements. A global web of rich and diverse local activity connects women from all around the world ranging from political rallies, business conferences, government activities and networking events through to local women's craft markets, theatric performances, fashion parades and more.
Many global corporations have also started to more actively support IWD by running their own internal events and through supporting external ones. For example, on 8 March search engine and media giant Google some years even changes its logo on its global search pages. Year on year IWD is certainly increasing in status. The United States even designates the whole month of March as 'Women's History Month'.
So make a difference, think globally and act locally !! Make everyday International Women's Day. Do your bit to ensure that the future for girls is bright, equal, safe and rewarding.