By Harry Lawrence - Publisher
Behind every dark cloud there is a silver lining, and if the years 2009 and 2010 can be described as the dark cloud, the year 2011 promises to be the silver lining.
Last year brought with it an incredible number of problems which seemed to materialize one after the other with measured momentum.
The biggest problem was not the hurricane that struck Belize earlier this year, but the recovery time it has taken for Belize to pick herself up from the dust of what will go down in history as the dark decade of former Prime Minister Said Musa.
Things looked so bad a year ago that the IDB recommended that Belize should raise its General Sales Tax from 10 percent to l5 percent ( See page 42 of IDB report: Towards a Sustainable and Efficient State).
The Prime Minister balked at this suggestion, but raised the tax from 10 percent to 12 1/2 percent. In his New Year’s message, published in this week’s Reporter, Mr. Barrow has pledged that there will no new taxes in 2011!
That is welcome news for the long-suffering private sector, which has been further buoyed up by falling interest rates and the promise of easier investment money from the International Development Bank.
In his New Year’s message the Prime Minister referred to more than 233 million dollars worth of new capital projects for the coming year. This will create some jobs, but they will not be nearly enough to go around.
As we all know, governments cannot create wealth. Only enterprising investors create wealth by producing goods and services which other people need. Governments only create the environment for development by making it easier for the private sector to do what it does best - provide employment by creating goods and services.
In recent years Belize has had a high proportion of business failures due in great part to an over-dependence on high-interest bank loans. When banks charge 15 percent or more in interest, they force the borrower to charge more than they should for goods and services. High charges lead to inflation, and inflation consumes a nation by cheapening its currency and causing its money supply to dry up.
As we all have learned, businesses cannot survive when the money supply dries up!
The challenge for the government and for the private sector during the year 2011 will be to produce the jobs and increase the services that will lead to fuller employment. It’s going to be a tall order, and it’s going to take a government in full sync with the private sector.
But if collectively we make up our mind, we can do it!
But we believe it can be done!