Posted: Saturday, March 13, 2021. 4:58 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has identified multiple structural barriers to growth and diversification of the economy in its annual Article IV consultation report on Belize.
In the area of credit and labor, the IMF advises that priority areas include: (i) improving access to credit through the creation of a credit bureau and credit collateral registry; (ii) accelerating registration processes to lower barriers to entry and exit from the market; (iii) introducing labor market reforms that allow for more flexible working hours and lower labor market rigidities to help businesses adapt to changing market conditions; (iv) reducing skill mismatches by improving education and technical training; and (v) enhancing road infrastructure by reprioritizing investment projects.
The IMF also says pointedly that crime is another stumbling block. “Reducing crime through the provision of adequate resources to law enforcement and social programs that keep at-risk youth away from crime would help promote domestic and foreign investment and enhance the attractiveness of the country among tourists,” is its pithy summary. Belize continues to have among the highest rates of homicide in the region despite a reduction in murders last year.
In the area of climate change and natural disasters, Belize, the IMF advises, should elaborate a comprehensive Disaster Resilience Strategy, that internalizes resilience building into a credible macroeconomic framework. Focal points should be climate-resilient infrastructure; financial resilience with the establishment of a natural disaster reserve fund of one percent of GDP for immediate response to natural disasters and building contingent lines of credit and participation in regional insurance mechanisms for more severe events; and reform of social protection programs to scale up quickly after a disaster.
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