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World Politics Review: “Corruption and COVID-19 imperil ruling party’s re-election in Belize”

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Posted: Friday, October 16, 2020. 10:05 am CST.

By BBN Staff: An article published by World Politics Review explains why corruption and COVID-19 in Belize are jeopardizing the UDP’s re-election bid in Belize.

Belize’s general election is scheduled for November 11, 2020 and political parties have intensified their campaigns.

According to the article, before the pandemic, the ruling United Democratic Party was well-positioned for the general election in November.

Since 2008, Prime Minister Dean Barrow led his party into 3 consecutive elections and with 19 of the 31 seats in the House of Representatives, the UDP had an excellent chance of maintaining majority seats.

But, just days after being victorious in the UDP leadership race, John Saldivar was implicated in a U.S. Federal fraud trial in Utah involving a conspiracy to obtain biofuel tax credits on false pretenses. The explosive testimony forced Saldivar to resign as UDP leader elect.

In addition, at the beginning of 2020, the Belize Supreme court had ruled that the Barrow administration had spent more than $1.3 billion of public funds without prior approval from the National Assembly.

During this time, the Opposition, PUP challenged Barrow’s leadership by beginning a vote of no confidence which Barrow survived.

“Corruption has long been rampant in Belize under successive governments led by both the UDP and the PUP, though information about the extent of the problem is hard to come by,” the article noted.

In 2008, was the last rank of Belize in Transparency International where it ranked 108th out of 180 countries and due to insufficient survey data, it has been off the list.

Then, the UDP held another leadership convention and Patrick Faber won. But, the party has reportedly had difficulty putting its scandals behind it and the debilitating economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic is adding to its woes.

“Amid a historic recession, a global pandemic and swirling graft scandals, Belize looks set for a particularly volatile election,” it further notes. 

With regards to the COVID-19 pandemic, Belize’s economy was hit hard especially its tourism sector. The tourism industry, in particular, accounts for around 40 percent of Belize’s GDP, and a similar share of jobs.

According to the article, the current economic downturn is the worst on record in Belize’s post-independence history.

The International Monetary Fund forecasts that Belize’s economy will contract by 12 percent in 2020, one of Central America’s worst growth rates, and the World Bank expects an even worse decline of 13.5 percent,” it added.

 

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