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COVID-19 has exposed Why we need proportional budgetary allocation

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Posted: Wednesday, August 19, 2020. 2:27 pm CST.

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

By Charles Leslie Jr: In 2015 I wrote:

When you divide the resources that have been harnessed thus far in Belize – nаturаl, mаn-mаdе аnd fіnаnсіаl – thеrе іѕ vеrу lіttlе еquіtаblе dіѕtrіbutіоn.  Whу? Grееd аnd соrruрtіоn.  Тhеrе аrе рlеntу оf rеѕоurсеѕ іn Веlіzе tо ѕрrеаd аrоund еquіtаblу аnd еmроwеr thе vаѕt mајоrіtу оf Веlіzеаnѕ.

Lеt uѕ lооk аt vіоlеnсе. Тhеrе аrе twо tуреѕ оf vіоlеnсе:

Веhаvіоrаl vіоlеnсе – gun mаn ѕhооtѕ уоu;

Аnd ѕtruсturаl vіоlеnсе – duе tо lасk оf рrореr mаіntеnаnсе, thе hоѕріtаl dоеѕ nоt hаvе а funсtіоnаl аmbulаnсе tо соmе аnd gеt уоu, ѕо уоu blееd оut аnd dіе frоm уоur gunѕhоt wоund tо thе lеg.

Whаt іѕ thе lеаdіng саuѕе оf thеѕе twо tуреѕ оf vіоlеnсе, еѕресіаllу bеhаvіоrаl vіоlеnсе? Dерrіvаtіоn.  Whаt іѕ thе lеаdіng саuѕе оf dерrіvаtіоn?  Ѕосіаl іmbаlаnсе аnd іnеquіtу, whісh hаvе bееn dubbеd bу есоnоmіѕtѕ аѕ ѕtruсturаl vіоlеnсе.  

Тhеrеfоrе, lоgіс dісtаtеѕ thаt tо rеduсе bеhаvіоrаl vіоlеnсе wе wоuld hаvе tо rеduсе dерrіvаtіоn.

А реrfесt ехаmрlе оf thе саuѕе оf dерrіvаtіоn whісh ultіmаtеlу lеаdѕ tо bеhаvіоrаl vіоlеnсе аnd ѕtruсturаl vіоlеnсе іѕ thе fасt thаt wе hаvе а соnѕtіtutіоn thаt dоеѕ nоt hаvе рrороrtіоnаl budgеtаrу аllосаtіоn еnѕhrіnеd іn іt. Тhе Міnіѕtеr оf Fіnаnсе, whо hарреnѕ tо hоld thе оffісе оf thе Рrіmе Міnіѕtеr, hаѕ аlmоѕt аrbіtrаrу роwеrѕ оvеr оur соnѕоlіdаtеd fundѕ; thеrеfоrе whеn аn Аrеа Rерrеѕеntаtіvе іѕ еlесtеd thаt іѕ оf thе орроѕіtіоn раrtу, thаt соnѕtіtuеnсу іѕ іntеntіоnаllу ѕtаrvеd оf rеѕоurсеѕ аnd thіѕ саuѕеѕ dерrіvаtіоn, whісh thеn lеаd tо bеhаvіоrаl vіоlеnсе, аnd ѕіnсе оur соnѕtіtutіоn іѕ раrt оf thе соntrоl mесhаnіѕm оf оur ѕосіеtаl ѕtruсturе, wе саn соnсludе thаt thе lасk оf рrороrtіоnаl budgеtаrу аllосаtіоn аlѕо lеаdѕ tо ѕtruсturаl vіоlеnсе. – Read Full Article Here

I implore the National Oversight Committee (NOC) to expeditiously allocate the necessary resources to assist San Pedro, for they are in serious trouble.

San Pedro; like Placencia, Hopkins, Caye Caulker, San Ignacio etc…pump millions into Government coffers every year via tourism taxes, and now, due to lack of quick and easy access to localized resources, many communities are left vulnerable.

There are two key contributing factors to what is taking place in San Pedro when it comes to the Covid-19 spread:

people moving around due survival instincts

compromises made for ‘privileged’ people

We are now witnessing rapid spread across the country.

I will leave the blame-game and the Tu Quoque to the politicians.

It is time to take Proportional Budgetary Allocation seriously, because we are seeing that the centralization of power and decision-making of the Government of Belize is very dangerous, due to the fact that it makes the GOB slow to act and especially react, and leaves the rest of the country vulnerable, due to lack of resources to make tactical decisions when necessary, especially right now.

Recommendations To Get Covid-19 Spread Under Control:

Some recommendations for the Government of Belize and the National Oversight Committee:

Short Term Recommendations

Phase I

Bureaucracy: Red Tape needs to be removed for GOB to become tactical.

Why: GOB will need to be making quick decisions if they want to get the Covid-19 spread under control.

Universal Basic Income: execute a 6 month Universal Basic Income of $200 per week/$800 per month.

Why: Establish disposable income, which will establish a sense of security.

Food Security: utilize the existing Asian-owned grocery store network across the country to distribute food in all communities. Each person gets X dollars worth of groceries each week. Subsidized by the GOB.

Why: alleviate a sense of panic, hopelessness and destitution. This increases the probability of people staying calm, in their homes and following the rules and regulations.

Utilities: subsidize (not waive) all utilities for 6 months – BEL, BWS, Internet/phone.

Why: again, this creates a sense of security. Believe it or not, people venture out their homes to avoid using utilities. Bills and no money coming in is like being stalked by the boogeyman.

Credit: pass an emergency bill to place a moratorium on loans and other credit instruments. If we can bail out ‘privileged” Belizeans to the tune of 100s of millions of dollars over the years, we can bail out our Belizean brothers and sisters.

Why: again, this creates a sense of security and reduces a sense of panic, hopelessness, destitution and anxiety.

The overarching purpose of these mechanisms is to keep people calm. Calm people follow rules a lot more than panicked, frantic people.

Phase II

NOC: the National Oversight Committee should be expanded and a National Steering Committee (NSC) established with the introduction of leaders from the unions, churches, NGOs et al. The current NOC has shown that this top-down method is too much for them to coordinate and be tactical, we need a multiplex system.

Each village should also have an emergency Village Steering Committee (VSC) established that coordinates with the NSC.

Emergency Funds: each VSC should have an allocated budget. This will allow the decentralization of decision-making and execution, and thus allowing the collective of the NSC to be more tactical. Placencia for example utilized a Peninsula Steering Committee in 2012 and it worked almost flawlessly.

Shut Down: execute a staged shutdown. Identify and lock down each zone. No one in or out except supplies.

Why: this will slow movement to only people living within that area. The UBI will give people the spending power/disposable income to keep the local economy alive within each zone.

Enforcement: stringent enforcement of rules and regulations.

Why: after establishing a sense of security and calmness, there are no excuses for people to be breaking the rules and regulations.

In conclusion, the Government of Belize needs to become tactical as well as strategic.

Tactical is the ability to make quick decisions and execute in a particular area. Without an on-the-ground system setup, and an entity such as a VSC with access to resources, it will become more and more difficult for the current NOC to keep anything under control.

At this point, I would say that it has already lost control of the situation…but it is not too late.

PS: I will be publishing a Medium Term Recommendations as soon as I can.

Stay safe Belize. And please, follow ALL the rules established by the Government of Belize when it relates to Covid-19. My prayers to my family in San Pedro and to all San Pedranos.

Charles Leslie Jr.  is the Chairman of the Belize Unity Alliance and the former independent Chairman of Placencia Village (2010 – 2013). He holds an Associates degree in business, accounting and economics and has over 20 years business experience.


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