REPORT #328 June 2000

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

Leadership people are the problem says the good sister, in trying to rejuvenate a dead Girls Guide program in the nation of Belize. First things first, are the training of girls in the villages to be leaders of girl guide troops. Two girls from Belize are now in Trinidad taking a course.

The French are borrowing a lesson from the USA. The French are going to review treaties with the small tax haven of Monaco. Because the tax haven of Monaco has laws guaranteeing anonymity in banking transactions, it has been suggested that this might make Monaco a money laundering center. It is a lot like the slander and innuendos out of the USA Congress with vague representations of money laundering in Caribbean Tax Havens, in order to pass a bill to blacklist Caribbean Tax Havens, on suspicions and rumors. Basically, it is nothing more than economic warfare by the bigger bullies to close down competitors in international banking.

The US Embassy in Bogota, Colombia is making it easy for young professionals with degrees to migrate to the USA. Reports from the capital of Bogota suggest that young professionals afraid of being kidnapped and families held for ransom are fleeing all over the world and are being issued visas to the USA in unprecedented numbers. First comes a tourist visa and if you can find a job and that U.S. corporation will sponsor you; just return to Bogota, Colombia and get your sponsored work visa and return to your job in the USA. Of course work professionals from other countries get discriminated against in wages in the USA. The degrees are recognized by the firms, but not by the academics and governments, so they have to eventually retake all their schooling all over again, to recertify in the USA. In the meantime, they work cheap for companies for a number of years at lower technician wages.

The GDP spending on rural provincial and state governments in Colombia was 5.3% last year, but the central government are going to drop it to 1.5% of GDP next year. Our Minister of Finance in Belize loves this number, a percent of GDP. Even with phoney statistics.

A cap on spending in rural provinces is also expected to pass in the Colombian legislature. In Belize, we badly need a cap in spending on the port town of Belize City and an increase on spending in the other five districts, slightly more than what is spent on the Belize District in which the greedy port town national political power lies.

In Argentina, the efforts to make the government work to a dollar standard and only spend what it earns, without foreign national loans, is producing long lines of job seekers at almost any store with a HELP WANTED sign. In an effort to spend the limited government spending more fairly, government jobs are being retained but are being offset by shorter work hours and less workdays, to give more people some cash flow income; while they find other entrepreneurial means of earning a living. Argentina went bankrupt a few years back because the government kept trying to satisfy the demand for jobs, by hiring everybody and paying for it in foreign loans. The government switched to the US dollar as a currency, but still uses it's own currency, but the amount printed in circulation cannot exceed what is in foreign dollar reserves savings account for the government. This dollar standard and foreign reserves savings control, stopped the inflation and reined in political pork barrel projects, which overflated the currency.

Avian Flu in chickens caused the Honduran chicken industry to be slaughtered. The Flu is in neighboring Guatemala. Neither Belize, nor Mexico are yet infected.

A volunteer, forget who now, posted the news on the Belize Culture Debating List, it was so startling, that the Trustee of the Belize Development Trust and compiler/researcher of the Belize Development Issues Reports, did a quick research and then wrote a piece in a new report and sent it off immediately to the Belize Culture List, the Editors of the Reporter and Amandala newspapers in Belize City on the mainland. A number of smaller Belize newspaper editors monitor the reports also.

The Belize Development Issues often scoops the mainland news media. With about 120 members subscribed to the internet listserve, of which around 14 are scattered around the nation of Belize, another 10 are scattered around the Western Caribbean and in neighboring Honduras and Guatemala, the Coconut Telegraph can be very fast. Many of the others are in Europe, the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and most of them are in the USA. A large portion of the listeserve membership are Belizeans abroad, but in cases of emergency, the international telephone calls home to relatives in Belize come thick and fast and the latest news " on the ground " from even very remote locations in the nation of Belize are posted directly to both the listserve and to the Trustee of the Development Issues division of the Belize Development Trust. This volunteer network is very valuable and often accurate.

In the case of the initial posting of news on the Chicken Avian Flu epidemic on the Belize Culture Listserve, it was only 3 hours before the Development Issues had researched the matter, made a report and sent it off to mainland Belize media tycoons. From here, independent investigations, telephone calls, forwarded e-mails and the internet did the rest. I'm proud to say, within 48 hours of the first initial warning of the Avian Flu epidemic, the Customs and Agricultural Departments had held an emergency bureaucrats meeting, decided on a plan of action and implemented it at the borders. Followups with more detailed plans started immediately. The response time from the bureaucrats was incredible for efficiency.

Credit should be given where it is due. Both the Agricultural Department and the Customs Department for border points deserve praise for responding in such a timely and appropriate manner, with a plan of action and implementation of that action immediately. I'm still in shock and a sense of disbelief.

It just makes you wonder sometimes, what we need Cabinet Ministers for? We probably could operate very well without the politicians under the current system.

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