REPORT #150 Nov 1999

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

There was a conference in Miami this week, on the Caribbean and Latin America. The Caribbean countries are the smallest and most vulnerable group of nations on the world scene, said Barbados Prime Minister, Owen Arthur.

In my opinion, 75% of it is self-inflicted by the political party European style feudal rule. Power hungry, greedy people have discovered that party politics and party rule of a nation is the road to moderate wealth, at the expense of the population.

One item brought up, is that the small Caribbean country bloc of nations is subject to constant recurring disasters of huge magnitude that wreck the economies. In the case of Belize, it is cyclical Hurricane damage, tidal wave, floods and wind damage to property and infra-structure. The World Trade Organization concentrating on free trade and corporate profits especially favorable to G7 countries at the expense of everybody else in the world is another problem.

The clock is also ticking on legislation in the USA on the Caribbean Trade Initiative. The deal with NAFTA and Mexico hurt the Caribbean countries. Congress is to debate the Caribbean Basin Initiative next session, next year, but it may be too late to do any good at FTAA. WTO and the USA have sounded the death knell of the Caribbean banana industry.

Belize is following in the path of the economic disaster that wrecked Ecuador. With a billion dollars in Belizean debt, the hope of any kind of balanced budget is as far away as ever and the two major political parties are to blame. They cannot rule without borrowing money to pay for their grandoise schemes fostered by centralization of power. The individuals mostly responsible for this state of affairs are : Lindo, Esquivel, Fonseca and Musa.

Business's closed in Ecuador now number in excess of 3,500. Aymesa, the car assembly factory just closed. Lots of bank failures because of inflation and government printing of worthless money, thus causing real estate loan portfolios to become losses. We don't have that problem in Belize. Neither party ever wanted or desired local Belizean bank legislation. They prefer foreign banks to exploit the economy. There is a good article on a huge $2 billion bank system in Bangladesh in Scientific American magazine this past issue, you should read. The biggest loans are under $400.

In Ecuador the government defaulted on $1.9 billion in foreign debt. Business moral has dropped 30% in a poll. Workers are being laid off in droves. Unemployment has doubled. Demand for goods has dropped 60%. Luis Maldonado, the Federation of Ecuadorean Exporters said, it is no longer a RECESSION, but a DEPRESSION!

Tax increases are now the norm to pay off the loan interest. Maldonado said this will slow the economy even more. Negotiations are underway to borrow even more money, to pay the interest on past loans. In the amount of $1.25 billion. The IMF holds the approvals for more loans to pay of old loan interest payments. Restructuring of the debt is the IMF's only worry. The people can go to hell after the politicians that got them in trouble. The debt is $5.5 billion.

At the rate the PUP is borrowing foreign loans, the National Foreign Loan Debt of Belize by the end of the PUP term will reach $3 billion.

Building codes and zoning nationwide, to permit only one family residence per 1/4 acre is necessary, so people will be able to feed themselves in 5 years time. A family will need land to eat and survive the crisis coming to Belize under these PUP party policies.

There is a slim hope on the horizon. The Political Reform Committee findings are due for announcement on January 4th, 2000. The PUP then will have about 9 months to implement the changes in Constitutional Amendments to distribute political power, policy making through de-centralization and implement veto powers to change the Belmopan governing structure on the national level from dictating policy, to managing consensual policy from the Districts. Or face a rising competition from new political parties. Political observers from outside Belize, say it will never happen, the PUP cannot solve the political restructuring problems. Too much ego and greed. The PUP will flounder on and run the country into bankruptcy. Political power and colonial style despotism is hard to root out of party politics in worldwide ex-colonies.

Buy land, plant some fruit trees and put your money in banks abroad is the solution. Prepare for it!

Wendy posted a message to the bz-culture list, that Prime Minister Musa is trying to get one computer in each of the nation's schools. If they are internet connected, that will indeed make a big difference. If not, the minimum useful impact requires accompanying educational CD-ROMs. I applaud this program of the Prime Minister. In the USA, the internet is going wireless instead of cable, or telephone lines. Belize Telecommunications Monopoly, if gossip is to be believed, will also have the nation of Belize totally covered for telephone and internet services through wireless, by 1st of March, 2000. Internet will be possible anywhere in Belize.

In the USA, banking, shopping, distance education, and other innovative things of several years ago, have now become the norm in large sections of the USA. Internet banking has not yet hit Belize, but a Corozal Free Trade Zone venture to provide the infra-structure for such internet companies was supposed to be activated by Xmas this year. Last word I got, it was nearly ready. Unlimited internet hookup for $20 per month within a square mile free trade zone on the border with Mexico.

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