REPORT #540 October 2002

by Ray Auxillou

You know, when you fix the Belizean dollar to the US dollar, the PUP government risks sending the economy into depression in Belize. All it takes is the US dollar to gain in world value! Sort of like a teeter totter, or see-saw. According to Ecuadorian officials recently; converting to the US Dollar has worked entirely well for Ecuador. Everybody seems very much happy with the results. Not to say that Ecuador does not have other problems. Bit like Jamaica, with a newly elected old man Prime Minister. None of the political party elite in Jamaica are qualified, or able to manage a 'Shoe Store' from their history, yet they get to run a complex country. Go figure?

Another thing with Belize is the fact that you cannot maintain the Belizean dollar unless the ratio of the Foreign National Debt to GDP ratio is falling. At last check in Belize, it was about 73% debt to GDP ratio and mounting, albeit at a smaller rate due to PUP curbs on borrowing. Argentina collapsed on a ratio of 44% debt to GDP ratio, among other political causes.

The thing is, Public Spending during the PUP, three year borrow and spend binge, early in this term, appreciated considerably and now we have entered into the early days of Recession. To go into Depression is at least the most logical forecast for whoever takes over the government next election? Taxes have been increased and the number of taxable items and license/permit requirements have also been increased. But due to the fractious nature of Leftist style Socialist economic policies, the process of permits and licenses and the collection of fees (taxes ) is fragmentated among many bureaucratic jurisdictional fiefdoms. The problem is; that we are saddled like Jamaica with a Constitutional arrangement that gives autocratic power to elected representatives of one party only, without any checks and balances from around the nation of Belize. Such politicians with too little statesmanship to balance the budget in good times can hardly be expected to balance the budget when times turn difficult. The PUP are a very good historical example of this over the past forty years.

One could claim from Jamaica observations, that Jamaica is run by a large and ingenious class of idiots! But I more think it is the organization of the constitution that allows this to happen and have been saying so for the past fourteen years. But nobody is listening in our two major political parties in Belize, for their own greedy reasons. Reasons which the voting public have figured out already as GREED; for elected representatives repeatedly are perceived as looking after themselves first, the party second and the nation of Belize last. Corruption is now trickling down from cabinet level to senior levels of the permanent civil service bureaucracy if allegations coming in are true? It comes as no surprise to anyone in Belize to have lower secondary level civil servants demanding private cash fees for service in permits and licenses, construction contracts, or to just get ordinary work done.

The Belizean tragedy unfolding is due to the observation that the country's political system has long performed in a predictable way, producing successive governments by second rate political elites that promise more than they can deliver. They promise workers and consumers generous social programs, rapid economic development, generous infra-structure spending, cushy low work jobs for the politically connected, and so forth. The result is a claim on national production in tourism, agriculture and forestry in excess of 100 percent of the total available. You have a recipe here for future disaster and violence. Just my opinion! We do need political reform, particularly in the field of dispersing political power geographically throughout Belize.

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