This week the PM took the bold step of pretty much red lighting the Norwegian Cruise Project.
The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding will open the gates for the initiation of this project at a time when the country is facing massive unemployment and an economy that is in desperate need of investment. The PM must be commended because he does this in spite of great opposition from certain segments of the tourism industry and environmental community.
However what must always prevail is that the overall benefits to the nation and the people must always trump all other interests.
The overriding question is a basic one; will this project benefit the people and nation of Belize? Suffice to say the answer should also be a basic one. And will it provide jobs and revenue for the Government of Belize? If it does, then it must go on because that is basically the rationale to all major national projects.
While there are concerns about the environment and who will get a larger portion of the economic pie, the way to look at it is that as we stand today we are not getting anything and without this project I do not see anything on the horizon that will provide reasonable employment. While I have a tremendous respect for all stakeholders in the tourism industry and the environmental community, I believe that the greatest stakeholder should be the people and the nation of Belize.
Being unemployed and not being able to provide is one of the most helpless feelings in the world. I know because I have gone through it. If this project will provide a ray of hope to alleviate the current unemployment – then I must agree with it. The environment can be protected by putting safeguards in place and financial sharing can be overcome by prudent negotiations but developing the economy must be the priority.
Everyone who knows me will understand that I believe in the purist form of democracy. My most famous saying is that democracy is the best way to govern man because so far we have not found anything better.
Democracy is one man one vote and rule by majority. While I applaud the initiative that the Representative from the West is making regarding the reorganization of the Public Accounts Committee, I believe that the key should be the strengthening of the controls and the check and balances to public expenditure in the nation.
There must be extremely strong legislature put in place laws that will punish any public officer who abuses public funds while they are in office and after they leave office.
There should be a mechanism to repossess funds and assets which were obtained by corrupt and ill-gotten means. That is one of the major steps that the nation has to take. Reorganization of the Public Accounts Committee will have one effect and that is to dilute the power of an elected government by parties which were never elected in the first place. This is not democracy in any sense of the word.
While the initiative looks good and appealing, the PM has it right, democracy is rule by the majority and diluting the will of the majority is contrary to democratic values. What we need is not a dilution of powers but rather a strengthening, enforcement and in some cases creation of strong legislature that will hold people accountable for what they do and didn’t do while in public life.
It’s all about the people!
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