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Response To Your Correspondence

Response To Your Correspondence
July 13
10:07 2019

By: Neri o. Briceño

Allow me to express my heartfelt thanks for your reply to my various articles about the nationalization of Belize’s utility companies in your letter, ‘Long Distance Advisors Commentary’ in this newspaper dated Sunday, July 7th, 2019. Your response gives me great joy in knowing that after writing for this newspaper for all these years, I can now confidently say that I have at least one reader and that someone is actually reading my message.

I will start off by making one point absolutely clear and that is that I have not and will never be a rabid supporter of any political party within or outside Belize because I consider myself an independent thinker. The die-hard supporters of the ruling administration and the opposition are for the most part what have caused the two-party system in the nation to survive at the detriment of this country’s real development. I will never be partisan in my approach to any issue in Belize because both parties are equally to blame for the squalid conditions and abject poverty that some of our fellow citizens live in. I absolutely love how you started out your letter and I quote, ‘Why are there still Belizeans who do not believe in the ability to compete on an equal footing with the white establishment?’ My big question here is when was race/colour ever a factor in the nationalization debate? But I must admit, nicely played. The best way to detract someone from the core important issue is to pull the ‘colour card.’ Maybe a more apt question would have been – why did the government have no confidence in the abilities of its own Belizeans and instead turned to a foreigner to run its largest state owned company in the form of BTL?

Since June 2011 when I first started writing about the nationalization campaign that this government was undertaking, I have never advocated that our utilities should be held in foreign corporate hands because as Belizeans I know that we can. Every day, there are thousands of Belizean owned companies that toil in a difficult and sometime hostile business environment and still manage to survive. The mechanism and investment opportunity for the utilities companies to be completely owned by Belizeans but in a private sector capacity and not by the state does exist and that should be the goal. The problem with BTL was that its previous private ownership was in the wrong hands and their political connections were too wide and deep. It’s impossible for any administration to create a monster, feed from it in the form of campaign financing and then expect to restrain it. GOB’s job was to create enough checks and balances, legislation and policies so that companies under its jurisdiction are compliant with the law and are paying their fair and equitable share of taxes.

Nationalization has brought no tangible improvement to the ordinary man and if you cannot see the corruption and nepotism at BTL then we must be looking at two separate companies. Just as a refresher; whose son was the past CEO? Which minister of government’s company sells credits to the entire armed forces and the police? How many government appointees and supporters have been injected into the company? Should I go on? Capitalist democracy 101; the job of government is not to directly employ, but to create the avenue for employment; big difference. And that is because the power and influence of the state over people grows exponentially when it has direct employment control over its citizens. That is one of the core fundamental principles that separates democracies from regimes.

Your concluding remarks, an attempt to paint me as some type of foreigner who has no idea about Belize, are disappointing at every level. I advise you that before you make such underhanded misrepresentation – do your homework, because I am as Belizean as you are – a landowner, a taxpayer who makes regular visits to my home Belize and is involved in philanthropy and activism. But your mindset represents that fringe set of Belizeans that view us who reside outside the national borders of our nation, (borders not Adjacency Zone) as people who do not contribute to Belize, when the mere remittances that we send feed mouths, contribute to local businesses including restaurants and in itself is a contribution to the national GDP.

I challenge you to research the amount of remittances sent by the diaspora versus the amount of income tax paid by citizens living within the country and you would be amazed at just how much we are actually carrying the country. I have always maintained that I live in Belize, but work oversees and make no apologies for it. However, it will take the collective talent of Belizeans living within and outside our beloved nation to change the status quo because anyone with eyes can see that it is not working. As per your parting shots that ‘The air is 100% pure and you can still get 8 oranges and 10 bananas for UD$.50’ what you have opted not to mention is that price is rising and the people of Chan Pine Ridge in Orange Walk living next to ASR factory will surely disagree with you about air purity.

It’s all about the people!!!!

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