A RESPONSE TO MR BRIAN PLUMMER’S ARTICLE IN AMANDALA “WHAT IS BELIZE’S PLAN” DATED MAY 23RD, 2020

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Dear Mr. Brian Plummer and My Belizean People,

I have been listening to the Press Conferences that our Prime Minister has been giving and he makes it looks as if we do not have a major problem when in fact we do. In the upcoming days, weeks, and months, our citizens will still be out of work and they will not have any money to pay their bills and cope with their living expenses so they will look to the government for help. It could get to the point where our financial reserves will not be there to make money available to our citizens and businesses. 

This happened to Jamaica some years ago when Michael Manley was the Prime Minister in 1977. He limited the number of withdrawals that people could have made and many citizens left the country due to his drastic actions. Some of the Jamaican business people fled to the United States of America, Panama, Belize, and other countries in the world. Even though they left the country, getting their money from out the banks was a problem. The industrialized countries that have the resources have admitted that they are having serious economic problems so who is Belize fooling. Many of our citizens in Belize depend on their relatives who live in the United States and now some of them are having problems as well. That will take away from the revenues Belizean citizens are getting.

The PUP and UDP governments in Belize, have never had a Comprehensive Economic Plan to deal with the economic problems our country and citizens must grapple with daily. Prior to our independence, we could say that as a colony of the British they were responsible for our economy so if anything went wrong we could blame them. We became independent on September 21st, 1981 and we cannot blame them now. Anything that happens in our country, the government in power must take the blame and full responsibility. In my honest opinion since our Independence, our country is worse off economically than we were before we got it. 

When I was growing up in Dangriga, there were jobs in; Pomona, Kendall, Middlesex, Alta Vista, Mango Creek, Hogstock, Forestry, and Commerce Bight Pier. Belizeans from all over Belize use to come to Stann Creek District to work. On Fridays, they would leave to go back home to spend their weekends with their families. When you walked on Commerce and Saint Vincent Streets in our town, you would see so many people and vehicles you barely could walk. On Saturdays and Sundays, bars and restaurants would be packed as well with people enjoying themselves. Today, those streets are empty and the bars and restaurants are waiting for somebody to patronize.

I lived and worked in Belize city for some years in the 1970s as a civilian and a Police Officer and the same could be said about it. On Saturdays and Sundays, Belizeans use to look forward to going to Happy Hour, Tavern, Birds Isle, Melting Pot, Mingas, One Barrel, Ricks, Bamboo Bay, Harbor Lights, Cross Roads, and many other cool spots to have fun and enjoy themselves. MCC Grounds was the spot to go and watch football games on Sundays and from there people had christenings to attend. Now, those places are out of business and many people from the other Districts do not want to go to Belize City because of fear for gangs and crimes. Those were the fun days in Belize city that I will never forget.

 I was a Police Officer in Orange Walk when the cane industry was booming and visited Corozal on a weekly basis. Some of the Cane Farmers use to walk around with thousands of dollars in their pockets. They had so much money, that they would fall asleep on the streets with money in their pockets. In addition, all the villages in Orange Walk and Corozal had their annual Fiestas and the people from the towns and other villages looked forward to those Fiestas. Money was spent because our Belizean citizens throughout the country were working and had the money to spend. 

Today, many of our citizens do not have this same opportunity. Sugarcane is not in demand in the world market like it used to be so our Cane Farmers need an additional generator of income. Most of them have land so if we give them the incentives to grow other crops and to do comprehensive farming and businesses, that will reduce their dependency on the sugarcane money and increase their residual incomes. Our UDP and PUP governments have come up with Band-Aid Economic Solutions for the Cane Farmers and our citizens throughout our country that has not worked. In a conversation I had with a friend of mine from Orange Walk Town, he said to me; that life in his town and district has worsened. I also had a conversation with a friend from Corozal and he said the same thing about his district. While our Cane Farmers in the north are suffering, our people in the south, Belize City, the west, and all over Belize are suffering as well. Most of those places that I mentioned in the Stann Creek District are closed and those that are opened, do not employ too many workers like they use to.

Why are we having serious economic problems in Belize? There are not too many jobs available for the number of Belizeans who want to work. Our PUP and UDP Governments in all their years of governing our country have never brought a Comprehensive Employment Bill to the National Assembly to provide jobs for our citizens in all sectors of our economy. Plus, reducing our borrowing of money and new innovative economic ideas are needed in areas such as; Farming, Agriculture (Reassessing The Privileges Granted To The Mennonite Communities That Is Not Granted To Our Other Belizean Citizens Which Is Not Equal Treatment And Protection As-Is Guaranteed By Our Constitution), Manufacturing, Construction ( People Take Too Long To Get Their Titles For Their Lots And That Slows Done Construction), Fishing, Financial Services, Small Loans for Individuals, New Business ventures and other investment projects.

 If a person does not have a job he or she cannot take care of himself or herself and their family. Then, that person is at risk to become a burden on his family, the government, or turn to some type of criminal activity to get money to support his or her lifestyle. Mr. Plummer, I know that you care and love our country like most of us do but I am not certain that all of our Politicians do. I have this lingering belief that many of our current politicians, want our people to depend on them when they know that they do not have the resources to provide for our people’s needs. 

This is tied into getting their votes for a few dollars. Because if our people work and earn their money they will not have to go and look for them. We cannot improve our people’s lives and build our nation with this type of mindset. Economics is not that difficult when we study about Consumers, Producers, Markets, Firms, Businesses, and the supply and demand for goods and services to generate and get money. Our country possesses a vast amount of human and natural resources that we have failed to utilize. If we build factories to process our raw materials from the crops we grow at home, we will create jobs for our people, reduce our dependency on manufactured goods and increase our potential to export rather than to be constantly importing and spending our money overseas. 

From the crops that we grow, several of them have byproducts that can lead to the formation of more factories and industries but we have no factories and industries to do it. One of our biggest human and general resources that we have failed to utilize and maximize on are our Belizean brothers and sisters who live in the United States and abroad. They have all that we need to make Belize one of the great nations of the world in this 21st Century so we must include our people in the Economic Development Plan for the future of our beloved country. 

PUP and UDP have had their chances and have failed us, we cannot continue to hope and dream that if we re-elect any of these two political parties things will change with our lives, our nation, and beloved country Belize. We also cannot continue to take chances with our lives and our nation’s future as if we are playing a Bingo game. I have waited for too long and pretty soon when the Almighty Father call upon me and you, we all would have waited in vain. Action speaks louder than words so let us all act now before that day comes.