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Belize Times for February 20, 2011

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  • Sunday, February 20, 2011 THE BELIZE TIMES 5

    FAILED ECONOMY = FAILED STATE

    The Prime Ministers lies, hubris and braggadocio now have him sitting uncomfortably between a rock and a hard place.

    There is a crisis in the sugar industry. The governments mishandling of this crisis, or series of crises, does not bode well for the future of the industry. To add to this, there is expected to be a surplus of sugar on the world mar-ket this year. The Economist has reported that sugars sweet run will come to and end with prices slumping by 8 percent. To add to the pain and agony of the cane farmers, Mr. Barrow is trying to sell their industry from under their feet. He has been making bold overtures to Banco Atlantida. This Bank, as a result of Mr. Barrows encourage-ment, has expressed an interest in acquiring Belize Sugar Industries. At least thats according to Mr. Barrow.

    It was because of hard and long negotiations between the Peoples United Party government and Tate and Lyle that cane farmers now hold major shares in the industry. Now this government seems intent on changing that.

    Mr. Barrow will soon have to give a lot of explanations to cane farmers and to the Belizean people as this crisis spirals out of control - again. It wont be too long. This is but one example that this government is clueless. They have no long-term plan. They deal with issues and crises only when it is politically expedient.

    This year there will be much alleluia in the citrus belt. Listen for it. The price of oranges is good and citrus farm-ers have been able to rebound from the ravages of Hurricane Richard, to have produced a bumper crop. But this is cyclical. The recent freeze in Florida also provided a lease to citrus farmers in Belize for recovery. But this industry continues to be plagued by a perennial tribal war to feed the narcissism of certain individuals and to the chagrin of investors. It is also becoming more and more evident that backroom politics is feeding the fly in the ointment. For now, but only for now, this industry may be the only positive contributor to the already dismal Gross Domestic Product, or the value of goods and services.

    Adding to this already gloomy scenario are the rising prices of gasoline and diesel at the pump and the calamity in the cruise tourism industry. They have both back-fired on Mr. Barrow. The latter is as a result of mis-manage-ment within both the Ministry of Tourism and the Belize Tourism Board. The former, because the Prime Minister, in one of his many election promises, said that he would reduce the price of fuel at the pump, No matter what. Now he is speaking in tongues on the issue.

    The reality is that our small economy cannot be sustained with the continuous rise in fuel prices. The govern-ment will have to bite the bullet.

    This situation could have been worse with higher electricity rates, because Mr. Barrow, when in Opposition, lacked the vision to support the PUP in encouraging investments in hydro-electricity and later began to pick a quarrel with the Belize Electricity Limited over electricity rates. Now he is almost begging the Mexicans for a spe-cial rate for the augmented supply of electricity they sell to BEL. He will not get it. That is not the way that business is done, Mr. Barrow. He will again have failed to fulfill another promise to reduce utility rates.

    Meanwhile, since this government took office, the cost of living has skyrocketed, despite a political campaign slogan promising the opposite. There is now almost one of every two Belizeans living in poverty.

    Mr. Barrow has now promised not to impose more taxes on the people. In reality, he cannot. At least, not di-rectly. He is taxing us enough. But please do not take yet another of his promises too seriously.

    We look forward to the Prime Ministers Budget Speech. We can predict that in its delivery, he will once again put on display an angry persona, the result of his numerous failures and his attempts at dictatorship.

    He will not be able to truthfully report any increase in GDP. He will not be able to dispel the rising rate of un-employment. He will repeat his do-nothing pro-poor mantra, and he will be reading his budget speech which was written through heavily tinted rose-coloured lenses.

    But there are a few simple ways to help to improve this dismal picture. Not that we dare to tell the PM how to. But still, we suggest that he begins by reducing the excesses of his government and the incompetence of his Cabinet. He could also discontinue the dismantling of the Public Service and re-staff it with skilled managers and professionals, and not clueless lackeys. And last, but not least, Mr. Prime Minister, stop enriching your family from the measly public purse as you have a Solicitor General and a paid legal staff. Those are but a few examples.

  • Sunday, February 20, 2011 THE BELIZE TIMES 21

    Barrow is bogusStrictly Personal

    By glenntillett@yahoo.comThey seem small in the larger

    scheme of things, but I do wonder if maybe a few years from now we will look back and see them as the first seeds, the first overt signs of the pre-vailing popular discontent with the Barrow administration?

    The past two weeks, for the first time, we had in conjunction a pub-lic demonstration, a UDP convention that failed by everyones estimation to live up to anyones expectations, and a strike or industrial action.

    And then there is a poll by the

    defending lame economic policies, defending, defending, defending.

    He could barely muster the ga-nas to launch more than a cursory attack on the PUP, his customary and now Pavlovian defensive strategy.

    Last Sunday the UDPs Port Loyola constituency endorsement convention for Anthony Boots Martinez fizzled despite a $25K me-dia campaign hyping it, and $15K in cash and large appliance giveaways as inducements. The full might of the Barrow Cabinet and the UDP hierar-chy were tasked to attend, and even the PUPs 2008 Port Loyola candidate now turncoat, Oscar Rosado, was trotted out. But by the time the last bedraggled supporter had trudged away it was clear that not even the most rabid UDP spinmeister could put the number of attendees at more than 1,300.

    Last Monday the unionized em-ployees of the Social Security Board staged a sick-out to call attention to the intransigence of the management led by Barrows ex-wife Lois Young.

    Antonio Pancho Gonzalez, President of the Christian Workers Union, told the media that sick out was as a result of the negative atti-tude and behavior of SSBs manage-ment and that the union decided on this course of action because SSBs management have failed to adhere to the terms of the collective bargain-ing agreement.

    At times, says Gonzales, SSBs management has shown total dis-respect for the Christian Workers Union. I venture to guess that the Unions, collectively, were the Bar-rows UDP staunchest ally in the years leading up to the 2008 General Elections.

    Im about set to read Malcolm Gladwells 2000 groundbreaking bestseller The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Dif-ference and I wonder if it will re-inforce my surmise that the Barrow administration has passed the tip-ping point and is about to be spilled out of office.

    The mood among the electorate is restive and their restraint seems to stem in part from the simple fact that the PUP is still in the process of putting together what will be its can-didates for government. The point here is that the dissatisfaction with the Barrow administration cant be blamed on the PUP that theyve done all on their lonesome.

    But after questioning the accu-racy of the poll, he began to concede that there may be some credulity in its conclusions.

    He has tried to put a brave face on the massive erosion of support by reasoning that every administration faces a certain attrition of the sup-port that brought them to office. He tried to deny the reality by pointing to what he considers historic turn-

    The fact is that as a politician

    all the polls and numbers matter to him all the time.

    The only time they no longer

    matter is if he is so resigned that he can no longer

    care, in which case he is just an-other lame duck nearing the end

    of his quack.

    nations leading newspaper that says that 7 out of 10 respondents are ut-terly disappointed with the Barrow administration.

    Week before last COLA orga-nized a 24 hour camp out in front of the Prime Ministers Belmopan office. The actual participants num-bered less than 25, Ive been told, and last week Barrow pooh-poohed their effort to call attention to his Drill baby, drill policy.

    In fact he called what was billed as his quarterly press conference on the third anniversary of his partys ascension to power and then spent most of the time on the defensive defending nepotism, defending oil exploration and exploitation polices,

    outs for the UDP contested conven-tions held heretofore.

    The turnouts may be a mirage, though, since their prevailing char-acteristic is the overt, public vote buying and the deploying of hun-dreds of thousands of dollars in both government and private resources. In these depressed times no one is going to gainsay poor people rushing in for a sudden windfall from the rul-ing politicians.

    Barrow told AMANDALA: The only poll that reall