Posted: Friday, July 31, 2020. 3:33 pm CST.
The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Breaking Belize News.
By Prime Minister Dean Barrow: This year our country is enduring one of the toughest challenges of its entire history, as the Covid-19 pandemic continues existentially to threaten the lives and livelihoods of Belizeans. Our Government’s proactivity in the face of the virus did two things. It quickly bolstered our health system, which in turn saved lives; and it promptly delivered economic support packages that have helped our people survive this harshest of historical realities. Thus, we have been spared the fate of our neighbors, the alarming community spread of the virus in our region. However, the crisis is far from over and our ability to maintain our comparative success will no doubt be severely tested. This, after all, is an enemy that will not stand still; one whose characteristics are ever changing; and one that refuses to adhere to any discernible timeline.
The scale of our present adversity, therefore, is unprecedented. But we have faced disasters before. We have been tested in the fire and the flood, the hurricane and the drought. And we have never been found wanting. Our Belizean story is studded with examples of our resilience and resolve. Our ability to respond, to survive, to overcome is central to the history of this land. So once more we will summon forth our proven reserves. Once more we will unite, we will adapt, we will prevail.
In fact, we have already started. Look at how businesses, enterprises of all shapes and sizes have, chameleon-like, changed, reinvented, repurposed. Distilleries have morphed their craft to manufacture hand sanitizers. Stationery houses have constructed face shields. Restaurants have pivoted to contactless delivery and takeout. Education, entertainment, exercise jumped boundaries and transitioned seamlessly from the real to the virtual. We slipped the knots of traditionalism, niches, comfort zones. We became elastic and we did the necessary. We contorted to remake ourselves, to keep life and essence and Belizean identity as intact as possible.
Of course, none of this has been easy and some areas have been vastly more difficult than others. Agriculture is holding on, certainly at least as far as food sufficiency is concerned. But tourism has collapsed and the road to recovery will be a long and tortuous one.
These two-agriculture and tourism-are our mainstays. So even as we strive for diversification, we buffer them in any recovery strategy. Tourism in particular, acting as a feeder to construction and small business and culture and music, will remain a key in the rebuilding of a stronger and more durable Belizean economy.
The Government of Belize is working with partners economic, social, NGO, international. Devastating though the pandemic may be, it is an ill wind that blows no good. So we will use this opportunity of necessity to remake a proper, robust and variegated new destiny for our country. And so I give you our Economic Roadmap 2020, dealing as pithily and as effectively as we can with Covid and beyond; offering the cornerstones of support to Business Recovery, Improving the Business Climate, and optimizing Governmental efficiency.
I assure you, then, that as together we trace the course of rebound and rebirth, these are our markers; these the milestones on which we will inscribe a narrative of Belizean economic and social resurrection.
It is a narrative, I have no doubt, that will resonate and inspire for years to come.
Rt. Hon. Dean O. Barrow Prime Minister of Belize
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