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Why Can’t Placencia Get Back What It Puts In?

Posted: Saturday, April 10, 2021. 1:57 pm CST.

By Charles Leslie Jr: In May of 2012, he was Senator at that time, Godwin Hulse stated, “Improving the lives of the citizens and those we govern, both in their basic living conditions and their economic well-being, is then the goal. We must continue to promote democracy and decentralization of authority. The Central Government may devolve considerable authority to the local authorities, dependent on the capacity of such authorities, to manage the responsibilities.

I was born and raised in Placencia. My grandmother, Doris Leslie nee Eiley, was the first chairperson of Placencia Village. My great grandfather, John Eiley, was the first alcalde of Placencia Village.

So, when I say I am Placencian…I am Placencian.

Belmopan Aggregates

Placencia Village was pretty much cut off from the rest of the country leading up to the late 80s when a mud road replaced the sand road that needed a good 4 x 4 truck.

Due to this reality, Placencia had to learn how to fend for itself.

We built our own everything: homes, sidewalk, church, water storage supply…we even built our own Placencia Fisherman Cooperative, one of the most successful fishing cooperatives in Belize.

The cooperative was so bold it even electrified the village.

I remember when villagers like my father, Percival Neal, my uncles, and many other men in our community helped plan and built the water storage system that supplies water to this entire peninsula to this very day.

This is what this all means to me:

Placencia was autonomous. We were interdependent on Central Government and not dependent.

Then we got BEB  – Belize Electricity Board.

This state-owned entity came in and took over from the Placencia Fisherman Cooperative and electrified the entire village.

No profit-sharing for our community. So that money that once came to the cooperative and thus the community, was lost.

We had our water board. It did a lot to help our people with the resources generated from this community.

2013 the government took that away too.

Again, no guaranteed profit-sharing.

In the late 80s, early 90s big resorts and other tourism development started to pour in. Millions in profits made. All taxes go to the consolidated funds. And most of those taxes get dumped into Belize City and San Pedro, and wherever the government of the day decides to spend it.

10s of millions generated from hotel taxes alone, each year.

What does Placencia get back? Well, whatever the government decides.

QRP (Qualified Retirement Program) came online and retirees started pouring into Placencia and all over Belize.

They started to see an opportunity to make big money.

Boom, they became business owners competing directly with locals.

Using the QRP system, they were able to bring in all their supplies duty-free, and out-compete us, locals.

Next thing you know, there is a real estate agent every other week.

Seriously, how much more foreign real estate agents does this country need?

Selling land, making millions in commission collectively. Generating taxes, and of course, nothing guaranteed back to Placencia.

Over the years the responsibilities of the Seine Bight Village Council and Placencia Village Council reached a point of managing a city, with little to no resources…

…and the resources are there. Our communities generate those resources.

Millions upon millions in taxes generated in so many ways, yet nothing, nada, guaranteed back.

We want to fix a road: we have to beg the Area Representative.

We want to buy fuel for the beach rake: we have to beg the business community.

We want to fix our dock: we have to beg the private sector.

We want to put up speed signs: can’t do that either, need to have the Ministry of Transport come and do that.

We

Have

No

Autonomy

We have been put in charge to run a Fortune 500 company, we bring in the big bucks, but we are treated like 5-year-old children.

I think you get the picture by now.

Belize remains the only country in this region that does not have a proportional allocation of its resources.

That simply means: if Placencia generates $20 million dollars a year in taxes, we should get back a percentage of that…guaranteed, that we can do with as we please on a local level.

If we want to build a water park to attract more families, instead of having our community continue down the road as a booze-fest destination?…

…then we can do that without having to go to Belmopan with our hands sticking out like paupers.

We want to pave the roads in Crimson Phase I and the Bakadeer area? yeah, we can allocate money to do that ourselves.

We want to help people in our community who are sick or have financial troubles? yes, we can do that too, on our own.

Placencia has climbed the ladder of success. We contribute massively to this country.

But, the more stress we feel and the weaker our feeling of safety.

This is caused by the degree of control we feel we have over our own destiny.

There is a giant imbalance between the effort we give and the reward we feel.

More and more responsibilities are dumped on our local leaders and our entire community, and it seems we are expected to work miracles by turning water into wine and multiply bread and fish.

Why Can’t Placencia Get Back What It Puts In?

The past administration spent 13 years gaslighting, insulting, and disrespecting our community.  All we heard was what they couldn’t do.

And we saw what they did to enrich themselves.

That is why they got a massive blowout during last year’s General Elections.

It is time the Government of Belize stop treating us like we are children and start respecting what we contribute to this country, and give us back what we deserve.

I am hoping and praying, and I am confident, that this new PUP Administration won’t make that same mistake.

Give us back what we put in. We know how to handle ourselves.

Written by:

Charles B Leslie Jr

A born Placencian that lost 100% of income during Covid-19

And no one stood up for people like me

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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