Back in 1983, when we started our importation business, Belize was in a semi-socialist mentality and we needed a Supplies Control Permit for nearly any and everything that we wanted to import — biscuits, soap powder, flour, etc. GOB had full control over who could import whatever was needed.
As the years passed and Hon. Dr. Manuel Esquivel took over with his free market leanings, the permits were disposed of. Only very special products required a permit from Supplies Control then.
Now, more years have passed and we are worse off than when we were at square one. You need a permit from BAHA for nearly everything, and now, with the plastics regulations, you will need a permit for the rest of the stuff from DOE.
The only difference is that now you have to pay for a permit and inspection of the item. Back then, you only paid your customs duties. I agree with the inspection and the fee, but a permit for ordinary shelf staple items is ridiculous.
Now, again, protectionist regulations for the flour and toilet paper — huge import duties are already paid on these items: 73% for flour and 38% plus GST for toilet paper.
On top of this, you now need a supplies control permit. We must protect our local industries, but not block competition completely. When countries practice protectionist policies, the local product becomes shoddy and expensive.
If the U.S. had protectionist policies for its auto industry, they would still be clunking along in their Fords and Chevy cars, gas-guzzling and needing major engine repair after 100 thousand miles. Japanese technology showed them a better way.
Regulations are not all bad for a country; extreme regulations are what get people angry. That is what has President Trump in power and the Democrats in a bad light. They wanted to regulate extremely, and Trump is deregulating, although extremely, too.
In my opinion, the plastics regulations are much too extreme; not even the large country of Mexico, whose policies affect the planet much more, is so strict.
While we are here, let me address this monopoly business. Man, the only ones who love a monopoly are the owners. All businesses wish they had a monopoly. In regular businesses, competition regulates the “wannabe” monopolies, but when governments protect them, then the consumers are in a heap of trouble.
The PUP tried to make the bus run a monopoly, and it backfired on them. Let’s see what happens with the natural gas monopoly, since it has already caused prices to go up.
Also, Lord Ashcroft wants to corner the banking system. The Chamber of Commerce has spoken against it, and PM Barrow sounds like he heard; let’s see if he will do anything about it.
Man, Belize is fast becoming a haven for neo-liberalism.