REPORT #240 April 2000

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

Things are so bad in Belize today, that most, or a very large part of government expenditures have to be financed through foreign loan borrowing. Recently a new proposal, well along the silent secret path of policy making, by a hush hush cabinet working out of session behind closed doors, has arranged an $80 million ten year loan from the World Bank to finance school repairs,expansion and so forth. A very lofty goal if it was self financed. Something that should be normal expenditures from the standard average $333 million annual revenues the government is given in taxes every year. The World Bank ten year education loan arrangement, is full of strings and conditions by the World Bank; almost all of which will punish Belize for a period of 10 years into the future, so says Deacon Cal in Belize. A length of time to be considered so ridiculous, only impractical townies from the Port of Belize City could propose the scheme.

Fred Hammer in a letter to the editor in the Miami Herald says that the famous showman, con man responsible for the cute saying "There is a sucker born every minute!" would say "I told you so", if he was alive today. Fred says, that not only do Third World countries act so irresponsible, that they now push the line, that they want debt forgiveness and to borrow more, for schools and education and other things of normal run of the mill government expenditures. That they want their loans cancelled and still want to borrow more!

And so it is in Belize, Fred. The cabinet of Belize is hoping for debt forgiveness. The Ministry of Education are expecting fresh water shrimp exports and taxes over the next ten years to pay for the education loans ( No hurricane in the calculating!). (Lets spend it before it is real, is the philosphy in Belmopan and the port Belize City). The World Bank and other international lenders want their interest payments and their loan principal paid back. The Education Ministry wants to finance $8 million a year for ten years in school repairs and expansion by a new World Bank Loan. This loan I believe is already approved, so the gossip mill indicates. Now on the face of it, one would think Belize should easily be able to set aside $8 million for schools, a trifling annual sum from $333 million government revenues tax flow. But this is not the case. The government financial mismanagement of the past three government administrations has been so bad for the last fifteen years and really bad this last year and a half, that the Foreign National Debt of Belize is currently guess-estimated to be about $900 million to $1,150 million dollars BEFORE taking into consideration a new $80 million school education loan. The government actually works on loans. The revenue, almost 100% of it, or at least 75% of it, one contributor alleged, is going to interest payments alone. The principal being knocked down it is alleged, is actually less than $28 million a year, the rest is interest payments.

No one in the public domain really knows what the true facts are. This is a very serious secret up in Belmopan, a government run by townies from the port Belize City. Their idea of good management is to brag about how much money they can borrow and the credit worthiness of Belize is - or WAS! Running day to day government on loans is considered normal business practice by the townies, who under this population representative system and fraudulant electoral system, gives them a lock on the whole country of Belize.

An analogy to describe what is happening, would be if you gave your neighbor the Ministry of Finance a hundred dollar bill and a list of groceries worth $30, and asked them to buy your groceries two blocks away at the store for you. For which you would give them a $5 shopping fee ( tax ). What you got you found out when they returned, would be $22 worth of groceries, and $36 in change. Some excuse would be given about the missing balance, but you would never actually know what happened to the missing money, but you would get a lot of conning malarky, excuses, rationalizations and make good propoganda. Not only did you get short changed, and were missing $8 worth of groceries, plus missing $58 in change. In a couple of days when you go to the store, you would find out from the storekeeper that you now owe $220 dollars on "your bill more" from this errand of your Ministery of Finance. You would have been stung not twice, but three times and the hidden surprises would be the worst of it.

Nancy Bennett of Miami in a letter to the editor of the Miami Herald, says that the World Bank and the IMF are letting the multinationals enabling gross profits to get to large. Esther Westberg of Miami, in a letter to the editor to the Miami Herald, says that these banks like World Bank are simply banks and are staffed by people with degrees in banking and finance and economists. But they are not trained in development problems of the third world.

They are just a money making profit making banks like any other. They lend larger sums of money than local operating banks, but they are still banks and do not know zilch about development. That is up to local politicians. When World Bank economists and financiers talk about loans for education or infra-structure, they are just selling loans like a used car salesman.

Esther recommends that the World Bank and the IMF get out of dealing with development loans and that these be handled by trained experts of the United Nations Agencies.

What we do surmise from the scant evidence and talk in the media of Belize, is that the PUP have been running totally, the government of Belize by foreign loans since they came into office. There is some double bookkeeping going on, in which probably one could guess, they switch a loan against tax annual revenues and claim it is revenues paying for government; but the real impression simply shows that things are so financially bad in Belize, the whole country now works on foreign loans. This education loan is too blatant. The revenue before the creative bookkeeping is simply going to pay interest and a little bit of principal. Even Central Bank is scamming most of the Foreign Exchange for government debt interest payments and rationing it year round now, in order not to be the straw that broke the camel's back, it is rumored.

The editor of the Reporter in a recent annual budget study, said this system cannot last long.

The straw that broke the camel's back, cannot be far away. I wonder what it will be that will bring this whole house of playing cards, crashing down around the necks of the townies running government in Belmopan? Will the Belizean people ever suffer ,if we default on any loan payments, or interest payments, and like Ecuador, the writing is on the wall and blazing in red roaring flames, in letters four feet high.

The lesson here is plain, the voting system on population representation instead of geographical representation has led Belize into a dire mess of trouble. Townies are fond of credit and borrowing. They make good administrators and clerks when told what to do and are pleasant to talk to, educated as they are. But as "leaders and rulers" they are a big bust. They haven't got the brains and practicality of the average lobster fisherman or cane farmer.

Wonder what the real story is on our TOTAL NATIONAL FOREIGN DEBTS and how much of our $330 million annual revenue is actually going to interest payments? And how much we reduce the PRINCIPAL of our many loans each year? Is there any money left to run Belize? If so, how much? The truth now! It is time for the truth and a Commission of Enquiry, to see what we can do to put our financial house in order. Let's fix our finances ourselves before everybody in the 288 villages and dozen towns lose all their savings. Then the IMF bonebreakers come in and really make things much, much, much harder. All because electoral divisions and population representation allows townies from the port of Belize City to dominate the government elections of the country.

Government by loans, hmmmppphhh!

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