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Friday, January 22, 2021
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2021: The ugly truth

As I write this first article of this New Year 2021, it is my solemn duty to take the opportunity to thank every person who has read my column over the past year. Also, permit me with all the fervor and goodwill to wish each and every one of you a most happy and blessed New Year 2021. I sincerely hope that this New Year will be a much better one than last year, and that beautiful things will be birthed and will spring anew for you.

Now, with protocols having been followed, I must note that I read and listened to all the beautiful New Year’s well wishes that were shared and posted. As the New Year was ushered in, I couldn’t help but notice the overly optimistic wishes and hopes for this New Year.

And I use the term “overly optimistic,” because many people actually wrote, uttered and believe in one way or the other, that come January 1, 2021, life will immediately turn around and look toward the hills and that all the ails that plagued us in 2020 would be done with and gone for good.

The last day of 2020 was a Thursday, and the first day of 2021 was the Friday (of the same week). My mind is boggled by the notion that with the start of a new day which marked a new year, that some magical change would come. I mused at the overly optimistic suggestions that this year will be such an amazing and wonderful year and that our troubles will somehow disappear.

Unfortunately, that won’t be the case, and the ugly truth is this: for this New Year 2021, we better brace for impact!

Unfortunately, while we may want to believe that because we are in a new year, that we have cleared the storm, the gusty gales still hover over us, crippling our sails and pulling us further down the shipwreck channel. Many wouldn’t want to hear this or even face this ugly truth, but it must be told and it must be said: the prognosis is grim!

The very same ills that plagued us in 2020 are now with us in 2021, and in some cases have been and will be further exacerbated in this said New Year. There’s no easy way to put it, folks! It is a bitter medicine, a hard pill to swallow; but as a country, we find ourselves up that very proverbial fecal creek without a paddle.

Let’s examine the most rudimentary statistics and scenarios that we face today. The COVID-19 crisis continues to plague us like a ghost haunting a prey. While the numbers are trending down momentarily, due to our lack of adherence, we will continue to be trailed by the metaphorical ghost. People continue to contract and spread the virus, and day in day out, precious souls continue to be lost. It’s a travesty, to say the least, and it’s an uphill battle against this tyrant.

More than the vast amount of people who live and remain below the poverty line, we enter this New Year with a record number of over 50,000 people unemployed. That is astounding, to say the least. Assuming that every unemployed person supports a family of 4, that’s a whopping 200,000 persons who will start this new year struggling to make ends meet. This then will lead to the widening of the already gaping poverty hole and consequently lead to further pessimism and despair.

This New Year, 2021, sees our debt to GDP ratio ballooning out of control to massive proportions. Imagine, just imagine, that the acceptable debt to GDP ratio is about 60%, and in this new year, our sweet Belize is approaching a GDP rate of almost a whopping and catastrophic 135%.

Whether you are a scholar economist or not, even the most uninformed layman would understand that we are in treacherous and uncharted waters. To put it even more bluntly, we are not only dead broke, but we are borrowing unsustainably and possibly teetering on the brink of a serious recession or an economic collapse. So much for that purported betterment in 2021.

Therefore, for this New Year 2021, be prepared for measures of austerity. If you think that last year was a year of cuts and sacrifices, losses and collective sadness, then be prepared to usher in more sacrifices and perhaps even more losses as this New Year gets underway.

Given the unstable economy, the unsustainable borrowing, the gross debt to GDP ratio and our sheer inability to jumpstart the economy amid the plagues of the pandemic, worse is forecasted on the horizon before things even begin to get better.

Yes, yes, the truth is ugly, but the quicker you’re equipped with knowing it, the better able you are to brace yourself to cope with its harsh effects while making the necessary strides to weather or combat it the best you can.

If we want to make 2021 a better year, then we must hope, amid turmoil, to pool our collective resources together to contribute positively toward the change and betterment that we seek and act earnestly in love and in service to bring this year to fruition, sparking the change we seek and so badly desire.

If we fail to condition our mind, body and will toward betterment and make the tangible efforts and sacrifices to bring about better, then I say to you for this New Year 2021, better brace for impact!

Unchained reflections of a liberal pragmatist.

God Bless Belize!

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