REPORT #154 Jan 2000

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

In the Reporter newspaper of Dec. 12th, 1999 there is a letter from Dee Thomas asking the Reporter to lighten up on the P.M. and quit putting him down. Dee is a finance major studying in the USA. Dee says the P.M. (Musa) is doing all the right things to build tourism and the country of Belize. He remarks on the good things happening in Belize.

I'd like to tackle some of these assumptions and take the Devil's Advocate position, to create a debate.

Number one, is the allegation from Dee, that PM Musa is doing all the right things! To a point, I agree with Dee. Prime Minister and the PUP party collectively, or the managing clique in the PUP party are ostensibly doing the right thing with around $400 million dollars that they are spending this past year, the last year of the millenium and the first full year of their 5 year term. Not including another $500 million in government revenue. It would be hard not to see the improvements if you are spending about $900 million dollars this past year on Belize.

Let's try to take the Devil's Advocate position and find some holes in Dee's argument, for sake of debate. The PM and the PUP have arranged to spend $900 million ( rough figures ) this past year on Belize. Think a minute! If you were a Prime Minister with an open blank cheque and the right to borrow money on a Government credit card, could you do as good as the PM and the PUP with $900 million in one year? Maybe yes? Maybe no? But certainly spending that kind of money would have some form of positive impact, no matter if you were someone like Esquivel, or someone else and a total blithering idiot. It would be hard not to see some positive kind of results. The debate if any, would come down to the way the money was apportioned and in the different forms it might be assigned to be used. Housing on flood plain construction financed by government foreign loans would be one debate. There are a dozen others for debate.

Of that $900 million, about $400 million has been borrowed abroad on the Belize national credit card in the name of the taxpayers. The question in my mind, is more in the $400 million borrowed abroad in debt. Not the $500 million of government revenue being spent. Was that $400 million justified? If so, how and when will it be paid back?

Was it necessary to borrow that money? Should the PUP have been able to work within a balanced budget?

Presuming that the PM and his clique have made some worthwhile dispersements of the money both generated in revenue and that borrowed money; was there any debate on how the money was apportioned with the six districts?

One of the faults, as I see it, in our governing system, is that we elected a political party and a small group within that party that control the rest through jobs, perks and paternalism as LEADERS. We give them 'carte blanche' to borrow in our name and to spend as they see fit. As Dee says, in this case the PM and clique seem to have done a fair job in apportioning money, both government generated and foreign loan borrowed. Dee also infers that Esquivel and the UDP of last political term, bankrupted the country. Rightly or wrongly this assumption does point out, that NOT all LEADERS are equal.

As a Devil's Advocate, I would argue that no political party, or clique within a political party should have CARTE BLANCHE to spend as they see fit, or borrow in the name of the taxpayer citizens of Belize.

As in Venezuela nowadays with President Chavez, or Guatemala in the past with murderous Presidents using the Army to terrorize the population, LEADERS can come in all stripes, moods and colors.

My argument is that Belize should not be governed by LEADERS. There should not be a leader anywhere in the country, in the sense we have it today, stipulated by the laws of our current Constitution. My argument is that we should have CONSENSUS government. In which basically, the six different District Governments have the power to approve, or veto National decisions, on how money and revenue is spent, or foreign loans are borrowed for the benefit of all. This would turn those elected to national office into MANAGERS and not LEADERS. Their opportunity to LEAD would come in the putting forth of national proposals and schemes to develop the country of Belize, but the actual approval and amendments after due debate would be decided by the six district governments in harmony by consensus. There is no debating process to find consensus under the current system. There are no checks and balances on either type of bad or good LEADER under our current system. The ideas and schemes they borrow and spend money on, have no debate. There are no controls! Nor is there equality for each district in this system.

We need consensus government actually run by elected representatives who become MANAGERS, not LEADERS! To achieve this we require political reform, multiple levels of government and veto powers in several constitutional forms. See the Belize Reform Party rough manifesto on the Belize Electronic Library, Development Issues section for ideas.

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