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May 3, 2017

Belize~Review of P.M. Barrow farewell to Chamber

Posted: Wednesday, May 3, 2017. 8:54 am CST.


By Richard Harrison:  On April 27, 2017, Prime Minister of Belize, Hon. Dean Barrow delivered what he referred to as his last address to the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the largest private sector organization in Belize.

In his address, he used various statistical measures to describe the performance of his government since taking office in 2008.

“The Belizean economy, with the exception of 2016’s 1.6% contraction, has grown every single year since 2008. This, notwithstanding that already cited gravest of threats to the world’s commercial and financial system which confronted us at the very start of our term. And even last year’s tightening was in circumstances that saw the entire region slide by .9%. In fact, ECLAC reported that the resource rich, hitherto roaring South American economies, declined by 2.2%. Viewed in this frame Belize’s average growth during my Administration’s overall tenure of 2% in real terms, puts us in the best in class category.

To elaborate, this constant growth has added $1.4b of annual economic activity since 2008, provided an estimated 18,000 jobs in the last 5 years, and expanded credit to the private sector by $280m. According to the Central Bank, a key part of this mix has been the $2.5b in gross FDI Belize has attracted between 2008 and 2016, with a 319 million inflow last year.” ~ P.M. Dean Barrow

The Central Bank of Belize website only has annual reports up to 2015, so for the purpose of comparison their reports from 2002 to 2008, and 2009 to 2015 will be used here.

In 2002, the GDP was $1.865 billion….and grew to $2.773 billion by 2008….a growth of 48.7%…..the average annual real GDP growth was 4.38%.

By 2015, the GDP had grown to $3.442 billion….a growth of 24.1%….the average annual real GDP growth was 2.32%.

Credit to the private sector in 2001 was $788.5 million….it grew to $1,742.4 million by 2008….and in 2015 grew to $1,985.7 million. So that, between 2001-2008 it grew by $953.9 million or 121%…..while from 2008 to 2015 it grew by only $243.3 million or 14%.

Government revenue was $373.1 million in 2001….and rose to $729.6 million by 2008….a growth of 95.5%. By 2015, it had grown to $968.6 million….a growth of only 32.8%.

Tourism receipts were $110.5 million in 2001….and rose to $281.1 million by 2008….a growth of 154%. By 2015, it had grown to $364.3 million….a growth of only 30%.

Capital and financial flows totaled $1,046.2 million between 2002-2008…..compared to only $805.6 million between 2009-2015…..a decline of 23%.

Even if the $319 million foreign direct investments (FDI) claimed for 2016 is true, total FDI would not add up to $2.5 billion for the period 2008-2016, according to the Central Bank of Belize publications.

All these figures have been taken directly from Central Bank of Belize official reports, the same data referenced by the Prime Minister. The PM should not have compared himself with himself.

It can be interpreted from P.M Barrow’s statement that he plans to vacate his position as Prime Minister before this time next year….which is not surprising, as there has been a lot of chatter about his declining health, combined with political moves by those who would want to take his office.

If Prime Minister Barrow does decide to resign from his office within a year….he should consider a transition of power by way of fresh general elections….start the re-registration of voters process now (at all costs)….and give a 90-day notice before the election date….not pull one of those now famous 30-day stunts….which is the absolute minimum required by the constitution.

He and his government has not done so well for the economy and people of Belize….even when comparing with what the people consider to be the most disgraced years of the last PUP governments….the evidence is before our eyes.

Prime Minister Barrow can brush up his image and legacy with the people of Belize by allowing a transition with a new mandate…..rather than forcing a continuation of the lack luster performance of the team of economic incompetents (but political geniuses) he has had to work with.

If it is all about winning elections….then Alibaba can ride off into the sunset and leave the people to deal with his 30 thieves in the way they see fit.

Let those who have eyes….let them see.

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

This article was written by Richard Harrison, Belizean investor in production and services businesses in Belize. He holds a Master’s in Business Administration degree from Lancaster University.


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