Belize will soon to be thirty. We are at a crucial development stage – equivalent to the first seven years of a child’s life. Whatever foundation we build now replicates itself in the future. Based on Belize Statistical Institute Information, Belize’s unemployment is around 23.1%.
Unemployment is one of the key indicators of a country’s economic health. According to 2010 Article IV Consultation International Monetary Fund, Belize per capita Gross Domestic product on average is significantly less than that of Central America and the Caribbean.
Our murder rate is among the top ten countries in the world, with about 40 per capita being killed in 2010. Our human development index for 2010 ranks low – 80th out of 129 countries.
It is not all doom and gloom, however. These challenges we face are actually opportunities to overcome. It is amazing that a country with so much agricultural land cannot feed itself with basic commodities. Don’t fool yourself - if you are incapable of feeding yourself, you can never be a sovereign nation.
The United States, Europe and China ensure agriculture in their country stays viable through government intervention. The evidence that to develop one must secure the basics and expand to manufacturing is supported by the rise of countries like Brazil and India.
China’s Vice-President, Xi Jinpoing, is expected to arrive in Trinidad for the opening of the third China/Caribbean Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum to be held at the Hyatt Regency (Trinidad) Hotel, Port of Spain, on September 12-13.
Attending the forum will be trade ministers from Barbados, The Bahamas, Cuba, Dominica, Jamaica, Grenada, Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.
Notice that Belize is absent. It is the powerhouse of the Caribbean present. The key to prosperity in the modern world is diversification. Our dependence on the US and Taiwan is short-sighted. It seems to me that we are focused on mere survival, rather than prosperity.
If Belize does not work hard and work towards economic and social prosperity, we will continue to be poor and powerless. Our thirty years of merely trying to survive must now be retooled into empowering our human resources to compete.
Just in ten years our poverty rate has increased by about 10% from 33% in 2000 to 43% in 2010. Whatever we have been doing, is not working to create a better life for the people of Belize. This independence celebrations, 2011, we must understand that the wealth of a nation is determined by its people.
If you keep the majority of a country’s people poor and uneducated, the country will be underdeveloped. It is time to empower the people!
Brian Plummer Amandala