Belize City: Wednesday 9th. January 2019
The emergence of Bernard Joseph Wagner in the political arena has been a breath of fresh air of sorts. The career banker and self-made businessman came at the right time, with the right vision and to the right party.
He has been able to breathe new life into the Belize City economy which had been on life support since the United Democratic Party (UDP) took office in 2006.
Since March 2018, Mayor Wagner has been able to enjoy the confidence of not only the common man but also the business community.
Unlike his predecessors who had the backing of central government, Mayor Wagner’s council does not have that luxury. However, he has never faltered in meeting payroll and other commitments in a timely fashion.
Although by the time he took office more than half of the council’s budget was squandered on electioneering by his predecessors his council has remained afloat in a miraculous way.
Even when the Belmopan City Council could not meet its financial obligations, the Belize City Council stood solid as a rock for all to see.
Mayor Wagner has cut out the wastage at city hall. He and his team are not living high off the hog as is usually the case with politicians. There are no menages a troi and caviar parties like the UDP days. This council understands that its goal is not self-enrichment but the upliftment of all people in its municipality.
This council has kept the streets of Belize City clean like never before. You can take a walk and not be baffled by the unbearable smell or the sight of garbage. The Belize Waste Control (BWC) and the Belize City Council have forged a relationship based on mutual trust and respect that has kept the city sanitary.
The previous UDP led councils have fought the BWC and lost millions in court only for UDP cronies to line their pockets with legal fees. We say so because they have never secured any victory for the people of Belize City in the way that this council has in an amicable fashion.
To this day, the BWC has not dragged this People’s United Party (PUP) led City Council before the Courts for failure to meet its financial obligations.
The business community has shown enormous confidence in the Belize City Council.
When Mexico announced that, its border state of Quintana Roo would serve as free zones with overwhelming tax discounts, the Belize City Council sprang into action to ensure that businesses kept open and that Belizeans were not sent home from their job places.
With its monthly discount Sale Zone, the Belize City Council and the business community have rejuvenated downtown Belize City.
The old capital has returned to its glory days as the Mecca of trade in the country.
Thousands of Belizeans from across the country flock to Belize City to participate in the discount sale zone.
And while Mayor Wagner has shown his confidence in the business community, the business community has shown its confidence in his leadership.
Earlier this week, the Belize City Council was able to secure a line of credit with a local business house for a fleet of 24 vehicles to improve efficiency by the departments under the council.
The vehicles cost an estimated $500,000 but is seen as a worthy investment in our city when we compare it to the estimated $400,000, a previous UDP mayor and his city administrator spent to buy two vehicles for themselves.
Mayor Wagner has credibility. His name is good. That is why a corporate entity has committed to building a colossal park on Belize City’s south side that will be able to rival the BTL Park on the north side. Information to our newspaper is that this park should be constructed before the end of 2019.
At this newspaper, we can go on and on about the stellar work of Mayor Wagner and his Council but he said it best when he said, “The fact of the matter is that our council’s success at the polls was as a result of our social infrastructure platform, which spoke about putting people first rather than projects. That message resonated with the people. However, captured also in our manifesto was the fact that we said that we were going to be business-friendly. The challenge for our council was to find the balance that is to drive business opportunities in our local economy while at the same time ensuring that residents of the City be recipients and participants in the business’s activities.”