Posted: March 7, 2016. 12:00 p.m. CST.
By BBN Staff: Are you better off in 2016 than you were last year or the year before? Are you confident that things will get better as the year progresses? Do you believe that the cost of living will drop and gas prices will become cheaper and the economy will improve? Would you like to pay less taxes and make more money? Do you think any of these things will happen?
Well, it certainly doesn’t seem so.
So many of Belize’s industries are experiencing instability. Sugar, shrimp, banana, papaya, citrus, banking and the offshore industries have all struggled over the past year or are currently struggling right now. Hundreds of workers have been laid off as a result of collapsing industries in banana and papaya.
And now, the future of the banking sector hangs in the balance as “de-risking” continues to pose a threat to the region.
The health and education sectors aren’t much better either. And with the recent string of foreigners being killed and turning up dead in Belize, tourism may yet take a hit. It’s also worth noting than an arbitration panel has yet to hand down a decision on the total figure of government’s compensation settlement in regards to Belize Telemedia Ltd. (BTL), which is expected to cost quite a substantial amount. And while we’re on the topic let’s also throw in the fact that Belize has the absolute highest, most ridiculous Internet prices in the region!
Let’s also factor in the depletion of PetroCaribe funds. That source of financing is no longer rolling and the level of government spending that came along with it, is over now. But we still owe Venezuela upward of $350 million for their generosity.
GOB has already raised the import duty on fuel twice to offset the effects of dwindling oil production here at home. Some have speculated that it is only a matter of time until the government raises the General Sales tax (GST) from 12.5 to 15 percent.
The government will present its budget for the new fiscal year at tomorrow’s Sitting of the House and it is a pretty safe bet that the budget will be thinner than years previous. Over the last few years, GOB has used borrowings from PetroCaribe to pad the deficit but with that source of financing all but gone, it will be interesting to see how GOB pads the deficit.
Whatever GOB decides, the public can be assured that they are the ones who will pay the price.
But if it is left to the politicians who occupy out leadership spots, things are great in Belize. But the truth is, crooked politicians are not the problem here. The problem is that the Belizean people have been unwilling to take a stand to unite and demand accountability, transparency, better use of public funds, development and a better quality of politics and life. And until Belizeans decide to take that stand, things will continue along the current path.
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