By: Neri Briceño
In June 2011, I wrote an article regarding the recent stint of nationalization the PM had just recently undertaken. It was promised that this would have been the only and final round of nationalization, but here I am again almost two years later to the day, essentially doing the same thing. I don’t believe that there is anyone within the Cabinet who can accurately tell me what their administration economic plan is, because it appears to be a haphazard patchwork of varying economic decisions with taxation and nationalization as a key part of it. No amount of explanation will convince me that in this case nationalization was urgent, necessary or so that strategic, that it jeopardized the national security or the economic interest of the nation. This nationalization was, plain and simple, a political move aimed at distracting the population from the real economic condition of the country and the recent series of scandals that plagued this administration.
At the time I wrote that the political objective of the nationalizations was to try to unite the nation under the perceived banner of patriotism and take back what is rightfully ours. However a closer look will reveal that these nationalizations will in no means lower unemployment, reduce the cost of living, inspire or increase foreign investment or make life better for the masses of Belizeans. What is sure to happen, is that the nation will once again get drawn into mounting litigation, which will further drain at the limited resources we have in our coffers. But this is not to say that someone will not gain from this. Keep a close eye at what transpires in the next few months and you will see the same attorneys and law forms making millions of tax payers’ dollars, while a selected few insiders and political supporters will be rewarded with high paying jobs even though they may not be qualified for the job.
What Belizeans do not realize, is that we do not live in a vacuum and we have neither the resources, wealth nor clout on the international community, to sit much less stand on our own two feet. While countries like Mexico and Venezuela had the capacity for nationalization, we don’t. We are still dependent on international investment and that is something that we are all failing or don’t want to see.
The nationalization of these companies makes no economic sense whatsoever – not then, not now. What will eventually happen, is that these companies will be run to the ground. Like with other nationalized companies, it will end up being a source for jobs and contracts for political supporters and cronies. The country has slowly become a case whereby if you support the administration in power, you will likely survive and if you dissent, oppose or just voice your opinion to something contrary to what they are saying then you are labeled.
It’s all about the people!