On November 4, the day Belizeans go to the polls to elect a new government 43, year old Justin Trudeau will be sworn in as Canada’s new Prime Minister. s.
He has pledged that his Cabinet will be made up in equal numbers of men and women.
Canadians feel the same sense of exhilaration as did Americans when John F. Kennedy was elected President of the United States in 1960. It’s not just that the two men are idealistic. It also has something to do with the way both men are able to think outside the box.
This ability to think outside the box to solve conventional problems is a rare and valuable asset for any politician, but it is of critical importance to a country to help it find its feet.
Here are a few examples: :
Petro Caribe funds
Petro Caribe funds have been available to both parties — to Prime Minister Said Musa and to Prime Minister Dean Barrow. What did Mr. Barrow do to enhance Petro Caribe and make it work for the people?
His government established a company which took over the supply of all of Belize’s petroleum needs. This company quietly took over the docking and storage assets of Esso Standard Oil. Now this company is doing what Esso used to do, not for private gain, but for the good of the nation. .
As a result, Belize’s foreign exchange reserves have soared from a meagre three-month supply to almost a billion dollars, and much needed resources have become available for national development projects.
Having strong dollar reserves does two things. It removes the spectre of involuntary devaluation, and its guards the country from external shocks such as when the Belize Bank abruptly pulled US $10 million from the nation’s monetary system to spend on Conservative politics in the U.K.
Belize Electricity Limited
One day out of the blue the Canadian-owned electricity company came to the government and said: We’ve run out of operating capital. We can’t carry on any more! .
The Barrow government was faced with a dilema: either look for money to bail out BEL, as it did for the locally owned (at the time) BSI, or take over the company. He chose to take over BEL and has had to endure the screams of protest from BEL directors in Canada as well as from apologists for BEL here at home.
It was bitter medicine, but it worked! Today BEL is alive and prospering and contributing greatly to the growth of Belize.
Creative thinking has brought about other significant benefits. It has freed the Citrus Company of Belize from a paralysing contract which allowed minority owners in Barbados to pursue policies disastrous for Belize citrus growers. It has, as we pointed out earlier, brought the sugar industry back from the brink to the point where under CSR, it can look forward to a secure future.
There was a time, under Prime Minister Musa, that
the country was under the economic domanance of a single wealthy Anglo-Belizean who was aware of
his economic clout and did not hesitate to wield it.
Today all this has changed and Belizeans can look forward to a new dawn of economic freedom.
All the problems have not been solved, but Belize is in a much stronger economic position today that it was under Mr. Musa. .