The current crisis at the Social Investment Fund brings into sharp focus the overwhelming culture of corruption that has now dominated our society.

Corruption runs rampant both in the private and public sectors and itís amazing to say, but kickbacks and bribes have actually become the norm. While the situation at SIF has been brought to the surface, there are thousands more that have gone unreported. The citizens of Dangriga who are the receiving end of the proverbial stick, demonstrates the effects of corruption on society. In the end, it is always the masses that suffer.

Belize is so inundated by corruption that it has now become a line item in business. In other words it has become something that is now incorporated in cost as if it were a legitimate business item. Honesty in business is seen as ancient, outdated and from a distant era from our grandparentís generation.

Not accepting or requesting a bribe or a kickback is seen as foolish on the part of the few individuals who donít. Unfortunately the nation has developed a culture of corruption.

It is relatively easy for citizens to justify any form of corruption on their part when the general leadership of the country is engaged in the same practices. The view is that if it is ok for them to do it, then it is ok for us also.

However, the fundamental issue is that any form of financial corruption is a drain on the resources that would have otherwise reached the people and therefore benefited the masses. The people of Dangriga have every right to be angry. After all, they are tax payers like most other people in this nation and ultimately, this will affect them. Their livelihood, their business, their ability to sustain their families, their pursuit of financial independence Ė ultimately the axe has fallen on them.

I am convinced that there is some level of impropriety at SIF, the only question is how far up top does it go and who else were indirectly connected to this scheme? We know that politics plays a hand in everything in Belize so am sure that somewhere behind the woodshed, hidden in some little dark corner is the hand of a politician.

The situation at SIF is but a microcosm of the situation in the entire country, which unfortunately we have either reluctantly or willingly embraced. When we can accept the fact that people who were once business and professional idiots before they were elected into office only to emerge as multimillionaires with majestic mansions, boats, vehicles, toys, land and ďfattenedĒ offshore accounts, proves just how much we are willing to accept.

Our people are suffering and will continue to suffer at the hands of corrupt systems because we want it that way. While on the one hand we see and feel the effects of it, we ourselves are torn between the fact that we ourselves want the opportunity to do the same.

I can still remember what people use to say about the late David McKoy who was once a minister of government but in his later years was an insurance salesman. They said he was stupid for not stealing and that it was foolhardy of him to be honest.

Imagine the word honesty was used as something bad. That demonstrates the level to which our country and minds have been corrupted.

When politicians manage to convince us that right is wrong and wrong is right, it means that they have not only won our hearts but also our minds.

Belize, we need to wake up from this long dark sleep that we are in.

Itís all about the people!

The Reporter