When our country achieved its self-government from Great Britain under the People’s United Party (PUP) in 1964, it was their responsibility to formulate a Long-Term Sustainable Economic Comprehensive Plan (LTSECP) for our people’s and nation’s future. The British and the Government of Belize knew that once the nations of the United Nations were ready to approve Belize’s independence, they would proceed with it. The Belize government also knew that gaining independence meant less dependency on Great Britain and taking care of our people and nation by ourselves.
If a country does not have the means to take care of itself, it should not ask for independence. If the colonial power that rules over a country is forcing them into independence, they should demand a financial commitment by that ruling nation to sustain their economy over a period of time until economic growth is achieved. Our government was asking for independence without the economic means, and with the Guatemalan threat still hanging over our people and nation.
On September the 21st, 1981, seventeen years after self-government, we accepted our independence from Great Britain, and life has not been the same since then for our people and nation. Prior to our independence, we were surviving on assistance we were receiving from Great Britain, because we were their colonial responsibility. The British government was giving us our annual subvention. They also committed to leave troops in our country, for an indefinite period of time because of the Guatemalan threat.
After we achieved our independence, the British relieved themselves from their financial and military obligations. In 1984, when the PUP called elections, our economy was not doing great, and the Belizean people voted the PUP out of power and put the UDP at the helm. Guatemala also began reasserting its claim to Belize. They were doing this because they were afraid of the British, but not the Belizean government. The Esquivel administration focused on several economic reform policies, to grapple with our nation’s debts while hoping for growth. Paying off debts while struggling to achieve growth, is the most difficult task for any government to face. It takes time to build an economy to make it sustainable over years.
Belize possesses great economic potential with its natural resources and people, but there must be a plan of action with a committed people. On September the 4th, 1989, when elections were called, the PUP were elected — winning by a margin of 15 seats to 13 seats. No matter which political party is governing Belize, a Long-Term Sustainable Economic Comprehensive Plan (LTSECP) is needed. This plan should be focused on the following issues: maximizing our natural resources to produce our own goods and services, passing environmental laws, ensuring indigenous land rights, investing in education, issuing small business loans, decreasing our dependency on foreign goods, campaign finance reform, ending nepotism, providing employment for a majority of our people, increasing our foreign reserve assets, decreasing the amount of government employees, ending corruption, paying off our long-term debts, creating investment opportunities, including our citizens who live abroad in their country’s future, and generating a surplus. Belize has a small population, and a program that accomplishes these objectives will work for our people and nation.
Since our independence in 1981, what we have been doing is replacing the UDP with the PUP, and vice-versa, back and forth, and we have not had any significant changes in our people’s living conditions, nor have we paid our nation’s financial debts. We cannot continue to borrow money and expect to solve our financial problems. Generating money and paying off our current $ 4 billion debt must be the focus. With the amount of money that we owe, we have little to show for it. We could have given every Belizean man and woman a small loan of $50,000.00 to start and own their businesses, created jobs for every unemployed Belizean, built a home for all of our homeless citizens, granted free education to every child in our country, and avoided this huge debt. This is what we call wasteful and reckless spending of the taxpayers’ money.
Only a few Belizean families and businesses have benefited from our nation’s huge debt. Now they want all of us to make sacrifices and pay it off. What type of democracy is this? The teachers and the civil servants are on strike to stop the salary decrease and increment freeze. The government, teachers and civil servants will all reach a compromise soon, but that will not resolve our people’s and nation’s problems. No matter how you slice the cake, debts have to be paid when owed, and the government cannot pay their debts and sustain these salaries.
It is the Government’s responsibility to solve the problem, and not the teachers and the civil servants. The problem is that the same two political parties go back and forth in managing our nation, yet the same problems remain. The unions have been supporting these two political parties for decades. The teachers and the civil servants should look for a new political party to govern Belize. If not, they will be doing this over and over again. When you find yourself doing the same things over and over again and you are not making much progress, then you must change the way you are doing things.