Yes it is official from the Prime Minister's Office that the General Elections which were scheduled to be held in March of 2013 will now be held on March 7, 2012, simultaneously with the municipal and city elections around the country of Belize. Today, Tuesday, Janaury 31, 2012 at 11:30 a.m. Prime Minister Dean Barrow made the official announcement.
This means that the country of Belize is now set to go to the polls to elect seven new town councils, two city councils and 31 area representatives. All rural areas and villages will be going to the polls to vote for area representatives only. In San Pedro the polling station will be San Pedro High School and Caye Caulker which was not scheduled to go to the polls yet, will be going to the R.C. School to elect Area Representative for Belize Rural South.
For the Town Council Elections in San Pedro the incumbent UDP is fielding a complete new team of seven and they will be challenged by the PUP team of seven and one independent mayoral Candidate and perhaps two independent councilor candidates. These figures can possibly change considering that Nonimation Day is on February 17 and any political party may choose to change or expel candidates. Independent candidates can also increase or decrease.
We are now to find out whether respective political parties or independent candidates like or dislike the idea of early general elections. That question will be answered by the respective camps and we shall bring you that viewpoint soon.
Prime Minister Announces Date of General Election
Statement by Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize
My Fellow Belizeans,
I have been proud and grateful to lead the United Democratic Party Government since February of 2008. And we have accomplished much in this first term. Acting always for the people and with the support of the people, our overall record is a stellar one. Economic growth has been consistent and we have recorded gains every year but one. This has been despite the continuing global crisis, despite the vagaries of nature, despite freak storms and hurricanes, and despite the super bond.
We have given income tax relief to all employees on fixed salaries. And we have given GST and import duty relief to every single consumer. We have, for the first time in our nation’s history, chartered comprehensive pro-poor and pro- people programs. These have included monthly cost-of-living allowances, subsidized food baskets, and cash transfers to thousands of families. We have awarded 300 dollar grants to first and second year high school students across the country; and educational opportunities have been expanded in unprecedented ways. We have built a record number of new classrooms, given a record number of scholarships, and we have excelled at creating second-chance, remedial, vocational, and apprenticeship initiatives. We have found resources to do new housing construction countrywide, and we have poured millions into home repairs and home improvement. In addition, we have written off almost fifteen thousand mortgages at the Ministry of Housing and the Social Security Board, allowing all those families burdened by repayment obligations to now own their homes free and clear. We have pushed infrastructure development in a way that has never been seen in Belize; and our roads and bridges network, especially in the South and North, has immeasurably improved as a consequence. The key to unlocking the foreign funding for all this, has of course been the fact that we have returned our homeland to credibility and honest stewardship.
Our social justice and employment outreach, has also succeeded in attacking the root causes of crime in Belize; and has produced the gang truce and the signal reduction in the murder rate that we are so thankfully witnessing now.
We have also enshrined nationalism as a paramount feature of our Constitution and our political culture. We have given the people control of their essential utilities. And as a result, everyone is now enjoying lower electricity rates, lower water rates and lower telephone rates. This, together with the restoration of integrity and accountability in governance, is perhaps the greatest jewel in the crown of UDP achievements.
It is on this basis of all this that I come before you at this time. You, the people of this country, are our comfort and our strength. You enable and empower us. You are also our monitors and our judges. Politically we answer only to you. Still, the forces opposed to our nationalism and our social justice continue to fight. At home and abroad they assault our pro-poor and pro-people policies, and some of them claim to have you on their side. We reject that and know they are wrong. But as proof we want a clear reaffirmation now of the mandate for us to continue and expand our mission. We want you to arm us and support us so we can tell the world that there will be no turning back. That there will be no compromise of our political and Constitutional gains. That we will forge unwaveringly ahead in our crusade to produce development based on justice; based on greater social investment; based on a larger financial and economic space; based on equality of opportunity; based on a bigger safety net; and based always on lifting up those at the margins.
We therefore ask for your clear instructions to drive the naysayers back; to do something about the super bond; to overhaul the tax code and further spur economic growth; to reform the public sector and make open vote workers part of the established staff; to roll out NHI countrywide in a sustainable manner; to eliminate financial uncompetitiveness; to lower interest rates and to establish a national bank; to rationalize the sugar and citrus industries for immediate viability and longer-term prosperity; and to realign existing ministries and create new ones in order to maximize efficiency.
Ladies and Gentlemen, you get the picture. We want both to consolidate and to strike out in new directions. We are confident that we have done well and have deserved your trust. But as we prepare to change gears and accelerate speed, there is only one way to know for sure. And that is to come back to you the people for your approval.
Accordingly, I have today advised His Excellency the Governor General to dissolve the National Assembly with effect from this Friday, February 3. On that day, a writ will be issued appointing the 17th of February as nomination day, and fixing Wednesday, March 7, 2012 as the date for the next general election. We will thus have both the municipal and general election on the same day. Now elections in this country are always hard-fought, costly, and by their very nature divisive. Having the two in one will thus save the taxpayer money, and mean a single, quick healing process. Whoever wins can then get on straightaway with the business of binding up wounds and uniting our country; of governing in the best interest of all Belizeans; of continuing to meet the challenges of the unfavorable international climate.
Ladies and Gentlemen, My Fellow Belizeans: I remind all of us that we have an enviable record for peaceful elections. I appeal to all political parties and candidates to ensure that we maintain that record. The Public Officers that will oversee the process are professionals, and will guarantee that, as always, the elections will be free and fair. Of course, we will also be inviting international observers to come and help make sure of the integrity of our balloting.
As we prepare, then, to exercise once more this most sacred of all our political rights, the right to vote, I close by praying now, more than ever: God bless Belize!