Thursday, October 1st 2015. Richard Harrison: Belize is having its fourth election for 2015 on November 4.
Elections has become an industry in Belize…..almost nobody works for free for the parties anymore.
In the Cayo North bi-election on January 5, the PUP employed around 125 persons at average of $135 per person, while the UDP employed around 300 at an average of $150 per person. This would tally to around $310,000 in personnel alone, over the 5-week sprint.
Extrapolate that to 31 divisions across the country for the upcoming general elections, and the bill will run up to around $9.6 million only on the wage bill.
In the Cayo North bi-election, the PUP spent a total of around $200,000, while the UDP were estimated to spend around $2 million, for a total of $2.2 million. This includes workers, fuel, banners, t-shirts, transportation support for voters, advertisements, paraphernalia, food, printed materials, payment for votes, personal favors, do-good projects, meetings, events, tents, chairs, office, phone, electricity, etc. These are cash expenses, and does not include the many in-kind contributions made by party supporters.
Extrapolate that to 31 divisions across the country, and the bill will run up to around $68.2 million for the upcoming general elections. This money comes from contributions made through the political parties, out-of-pocket from the candidates and private contributions. In some cases, candidates and even the political parties arrange loans and overdraft facilities at the banks to finance their “investment”!!
The spend in Dangriga bi-election was around $400,000 for the PUP, and around $1.6 million for the UDP, for a total of $2 million.
The spend in the municipal elections was around $3 million for the PUP, and around $12 million for the UDP, for a total of around $15 million.
This means that a total of around $87.4 million will have been spent on elections for the year.
In 2014, Belize citrus industry exported around $85 million, hence the elections industry in 2015 is bigger than the citrus industry.
With 400 employed in Cayo North, 400 in Dangriga, 2,700 employed in municipal elections and another 12,400 employed in the upcoming general elections, all of them for 5 weeks, that is a total of 79,500 man/weeks or similar to 1,528 persons employed all year round.
Belize has created a new and vibrant industry….it’s called elections!!!
The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of the Belize Media Group.
This article was written by Richard Harrison, Belizean investor in production and services businesses in Belize. He holds a Masters in Business Administration degree from Lancaster University.
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