In March 2020, Belize imported $174.1 million worth of goods, up 18.2% or $26.8 million from March 2019.
In March 2020, Belize exported $26.7 million. That’s a trade deficit for goods of $147.4 million. Although we have tourism and other services, every year Belize has a huge budget deficit. If we want to have a better standard of living for us and future generations, Belize has to change course.
The consumer price index for March 2020 was 0.2 %. This is a misleading figure because it is calculated using a hedonic method. For example, the cost of internet services increased by 12.5 % when government added General Sales Tax (GST) to the price, but at the same time, the internet company doubled the speed, so there was a decrease in cost per megabytes.
But the reality is that Belizeans are paying more for internet services, although it would be recorded as a decrease. Similar mathematical tricks are used that are not representing the true reality of the Belizean consumer.
This global recession or depression triggered by the coronavirus pandemic (not caused by it), means we have to change our modus operandi and modus vivindi (way of life). Eventually, the government of Belize will have to either cut salaries or retrench, or a combination of both. This can be avoided with decisive and sagacious leadership. In March 2020, Belize spent 6.6 million on fats and oils. We can produce our own fats and oil, plus produce such oils for export.
In March 2020, Belize imported $53.8 million worth of food and live animals. We can cut that by more than half with the right investment in agriculture and agro-production.
It is my opinion that from Independence until now, we have had leaders that don’t think about making Belize number 1. All we have had are politicians continuing the system they met and benefiting their friends and family. It is no surprise that Belize has the highest poverty rate in the region — 43%.; we are second only to Haiti.
The high crime rate and poverty are a reflection of our quality of national leadership.
Brian Ellis Plummer