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Chamber of Commerce discusses recent shocks on re-emerging economy: ‘It’s not a positive outlook’

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Posted: Tuesday, January 25, 2022. 10:45 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: The Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) says it continues to gather data on the monetary value of the potential financial losses coming from the Port of Belize Limited (PBL) shutdown, described by President Marissa Longsworth as ‘quite tremendous’ for citizens and businesses alike.

And the return of key services and industrial sectors has been jolted by multiple “exogenous” shocks, COVID the worst of them, she explained: “No doubt about it, every single time that we’ve had a wave from COVID – and I think we’re now on number four from what we’re understanding – every time we’ve had a wave where there are less staff members available to carry the load of the businesses that exist, we have suffered as a country.”

Apart from quarterly data by the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB) there is no way to quantify the daily and weekly losses in productivity as a result of having people getting sick, but goods and services are moving more slowly whether in the private or public sector. Longsworth compared it to the effects of multiple hurricanes on a daily or weekly basis, losing anywhere from three to five days of productivity, and that is without considering other factors.

What the country needs right now is a smoother transition to economic recovery which has not been evident at the moment, she concluded, and that members have said that the outlook is not positive as far as they are concerned.

Consultant Daniel Gutierrez added that it comes down to breaches of the rule of law – crimes such as the arson of the Valley of Peace sugar acreage, the cane farmers blocking the Tower Hill factory for several days over an interim agreement for delivery of cane to that factory, and the current contretemps at the Port.

“It is easy to see as some big importer, some private sector entity, some big investor – no, we need to look at it from the angle of the people that are being hired, the millions upon millions of hard currency that is coming into the economy, so those things hurt us,” he said.

Belize is projected for substantial economic growth, but Gutierrez said that to achieve it, the private sector must be put in the best position to transition and get us truly moving again, by maintaining investor and supplier confidence in Belize and its institutions.

 

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