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Old habits die hard but change we must: Recommendations for 2017

Posted: Saturday, December 31, 2016. 10:02 pm CST.


By Dr. Marcelino Avila:  My wife Mili and I are very happy to be home after a successful four-year assignment in Africa. After a year of first-hand observation and living after our return, we can conclude 2016 was quite an eventful year for Belize, apparently exciting for some but disastrous for many! We are impressed with progress, particularly in the areas of young people trained, physical infrastructure, quantity and quality of cars, communication technology and social media, widespread access to basic utilities, just to mention a few.

We also noted the various problems with quality of life and progress within our communities, such as destitute families and persons, violent murders/gangs and violence, traffic accidents, health problems and diseases, government corruption, struggling productive sectors/ antagonistic stakeholders, hurricane damage, financially strapped organizations, and so on. And the dialogue on the ever-increasing complexity of these problems, their causes and effects, and limited impact of current effort, often renders that feeling of powerlessness in ever resolving them once and for all. Well, complexity is reality but guess what, there is a lot we can do to improve this situation, and it is not so difficult or costly. What we need is discipline and a work ethic on the part of all, and if we truly love our country, we must do it now and start today.

One of the great lessons I have learnt from the schools of thinking and the practice of development is that culture is a fundamental pillar, meaning that culture determines why some societies or countries develop and thrive while others do not. Culture is powerful because it defines the web of basic beliefs, values, attitudes and standards, which permeates all institutions of Belize and characterize us to the bone as Belizeans. If we want to do better and raise our development and quality of life to its maximum potential, we must focus on culture. With this in mind, I wish to propose a few brief suggestions for 2017.

For all Belizeans, it should all start with self and at home:

  • Whatever you are doing, work hard at it and save as much as possible: always try to spend less than what you make, and if you are not making enough for a decent living, take an extra job or start up any (legal) activity to generate extra income. Try not to waste time, the most valuable resource. Always invest your savings on what can increase income not cost for you. Savings later enable you to acquire assets that enhance your future income and long-term security.
  • Show more understanding, respect and love to those around you. These are absolutely essential for progress and good relations, whether in the family, community, on the roads, in business or in politics. Their expression always makes us happy by our nature.
  • Look after the needs of your children and spend more time with them. They should be priority, and they need parents most when they are small for support and nurture, and when you are old, they will reward you for it, and you will be happy for them.
  • Eat well and do some exercise. You need to consume less starches, more veggies and fruits, and drink more water and less sweetened and alcoholic drinks. Do as much exercise as you can, all the time. You can always work around the house, keep the yard and in front of the yard clean, walk as much as possible, and time allowing, adopt an age-appropriate sport you like.
  • Bring God into your life, read the Bible and pray often. Apart from the spiritual plusses, prayers have been proven to produce more wisdom, peace of mind, a warm heart, discipline, financial success and cooperation, not to mention the health benefits.
  • And be more informed on Government policies and programs with the intent of learning where and how you can contribute, where and how you can benefit, and whether those programs are producing good results and for whom. As much as possible, do this with an open mind, analyze facts and then decide as a responsible citizen.

For public and private sector leaders:

  • Read more and study to gain inspiration and innovation on how to create opportunities, to be more competent, to manage people and resources effectively and efficiently, etc. Every leader should be well informed not only on their policies, programs and technology but also be conversant with the Constitution, Sustainable Development Goals, Bible, and the great thinking and achievements of admired leaders and statesmen of yesterday and today in the world. You can Google so easily.
  • Focus on creating more jobs. This is the single most important objective of socio economic development, because without jobs there is no productivity, profitability, savings, investment or sustainability, and therefore only poverty.
  • (In your professional work) think firstly on what is important and good for country, secondly for your party or sector, and lastly for self or family, and act accordingly. You should act like a true leader or patriot, and history will honour you.
  • Always exercise authority and power by obeying the laws, rules and norms as stated in the Constitution and other Laws, our institutions and organizations.

Let 2017 be a year of putting our personal plans into action. Let it be a year of creating more opportunities, more savings for investment and then income for you, family and country. Let it be a year of building more understanding and solidarity, whether in family, districts, productive sectors, and for the nation, and let it be a year of working as an action- and results-driven team with our leaders to address our challenges and taking advantage of opportunities to develop our nation effectively, effectively and sustainably.

If we can do the above and we all undertake our tasks with more knowledge, passion, discipline and responsibility, I can assure you our dreams will become reality and Belize will surely be a great place for all. A very Happy New Year, best wishes for 2017 and God bless us all.

The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Breaking Belize News.

This article was written by Dr. Marcelino Avila. Dr. Avila holds a PhD in Agriculture Economics from the University of Missouri and is a former CEO in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries in Belize. He is a research and development expert in agriculture and natural resource management and has worked as a scientist, researcher and professor at various institutions in Central America, Mexico, Europe and Africa.



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