According to the Statistical Institute of Belize, Belize has had 4 consecutive declines in gross domestic product (GDP) by the end of March 2020. The traditional definition of a recession is 2 consecutive quarters of GDP declines, so Belize was in a recession about 6 months before the COVID-19 pandemic hit us. This indicates that Belize’s economic policies and practices were already failing.
We cannot continue the same old policy of borrowing to produce growth, which has been practiced by both UDP and PUP administrations. Research shows that after a country’s debt to GDP ratio reaches above 77%, the amount borrowed produces far less value of growth.
A debt to GDP ratio above 90% is associated with slow economic growth. If Belize is to become a developed nation, it must reduce its debt.
The practice of perpetuating poverty in Belize with mere handouts is causing Belize to not develop into an economic, social and political success. The high poverty rate and murder rate indicate that we are failing as a country. We are the only country in the world with far less than a million people, which has such a high murder rate. The report card of our past and present politicians is a “D” moving toward an “F.”
There is virtually no accountability for our political leaders. Every year the Auditor General’s report is not implemented. The Integrity Commission has no teeth to identify and remedy corruption. It is a paper institution that has never brought one politician to justice.
Our law enforcement is heavily influenced by the political directorate. The commission that appoints the top brass is not independent, and the promotion process is not transparent.
Former police commissioner Allen Whylie’s abrupt retirement illustrates that the police serve at the pleasure of Belize’s political directorate. Therefore, our politicians are above the law. This can be remedied by an independent law enforcement branch that has tenure.
Finally, for a population of only 400,000, we have too many area representatives. Ideally, we should have not more than 21 area representatives, not 31 as there are now. The country cannot afford all those high salaries and benefits.
I can do the math and show that, for our population, we are too top-heavy, but it would take up too much editorial space.
If we don’t move in a way to make structural change as I suggest, 30 years from now we will still be a developing nation that is full of crime and poverty.
Brian E. Plummer