The future of the Belizean economy is anyone’s guess and all indications are that it is not performing successfully.
The departure of First Caribbean was the writing on the wall that all is not as well as the government would want us to believe. Then came Fruta Bomba – one of the largest agricultural and export companies in the north and at one time, one of its largest employers. For most of those people who were watching the agricultural sector in the north, this came as no surprise.
Fruta Bomba is one of those companies who are offered incentive packages by the government in return for investing in Belize. In other words, they enjoy a certain level of tax breaks in order for their operations to be more successful. There is nothing wrong or corrupt about the practice, since it is a standard proceedure that governments globally employ in order to stimulate their economies.
When companies that have breaks fail, it is a definite sign that things are bad. Now if the companies with incentives are failing, imagine what will happen with the local companies who have none. The question is what’s next? What is GOB’s plan to tackle a failing economy?
Those who dispute this theory can simply ask the ordinary man on the street or the struggling middleclass in order to get a real picture of state of the economy. GOB’s predictable answer will be to borrow more money. That, despite the fact that there needs to be a reduction in government spending and especially a downsizing of GOB contract workers. However, that will not happen because we can never trust this government to do what is right, just what is popular.
Whenever you see the agricultural, productive sector in any nation starting to fail and a country slowly finds itself unable or unwilling to feed itself, them it’s time to be seriously concerned. Belize will not survive if it does not invest in its own productive sector. While opening a newly renovated and upgraded beer bottling facility is great, we cannot survive on alcohol. But maybe the government is pleased if we drink our sorrows away and turn a blind eye to the reality of the nation.
And if alcohol were not enough, now they are contemplating decriminalizing small quantities of marijuana. The argument behind this is the most ridiculous I have heard. If you are allowed to have only a small amount of marijuana for personal use, yet the cultivation of marijuana is still illegal, what do you think will happen to the overall production of the stuff, it will increase. There goes our war on drugs. Remember this Belize, any efforts for the decriminalizing of small portions of marijuana is but small baby steps for the legalization of the drug. Next will be abortion and same sex marriage, there is a liberal agenda floating inside the chambers of Independence Hill.
I must applaud the government for making great efforts to address the de-risking situation that has the potential of literally obliterating our financial sector. However, no real progress will be made until the core issue of why this problem was created in the first place is addressed. That was as a result of the age old problem of corruption. I challenge every minister of government past and present to disclose the finances of their close family members, known associates and their own – for then we will truly see where the problem lies. No amount of strategizing or negotiating will convince the Americans that we are making any meaningful efforts until we address institutional corruption.
While I wish the efforts to be successful for the sake of all of CARICOM, member countries have to seriously do their part. Corruption remains one the biggest problems in this region and that has stifled progress in our entire region. Belize is no exception.
I sincerely believe that the heads of CARICOM who are attending this meeting, have no idea of the extent of corruption taking place in our country. The corruption in Belize has helped to fuel the narco-war in Mexico, money laundering in our offshore sector and the killing of innocent Belizean lives on the street.
It’s all about the people!