While we continue the count down to the ICJ debating amongst ourselves on the merits and demerits of each position, Governor Carlos Joaquín of Quintana Roo Mexico has been busy touring Canada. He has been advancing his PRO QUINTANA ROO agenda and managed to clinch a deal for an initial 240M investment toward a specialized hospital and housing development complex for Canadian retirees. The second stage will see an additional 250M investment in neighboring Chetumal which is the capital city of the state of Quintana Roo. The Yucatan Times dated 22nd February, 2019 also boasts that Governor Joaquín took time out to meet with executives from Hitachi and Metrolinx. The first is a leader in the field of technological development and the second is an organization created by the Government of Ontario that manages and integrates road and public transport. Both are interested to include Quintana Roo as part of their growth plans in the future.
The Governor had meetings scheduled with Travel Pulse, Baxter Travel and Media and Travel Nation Canada. This is in line with the greater plan to make of Chetumal a world leader in health services which will in turn raise the value of real estate, commercial activity and services in the state capital. It is the hope to bring more economic diversity to the southern part of the state of Quintana Roo. This to coincide with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) promise of making the entire city of Chetumal a Duty Free Zone, lowering sales taxes and the prices on fuel.
Meanwhile, back in Corozal the Ministry of Economic Development, Petroleum, Investment, Trade and Commerce unveiled their Regional Economic Development Master Plan for Corozal District. Chock full of pie charts, tables and graphs the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) came to tell us what we have known for many years and is blatantly obvious. The Corozal Free Zone (CFZ) is on its last leg. The infrastructure, what there is of it, is worn and in ill repair. The IDB recommends that the management and oversight of the CFZ needs a complete overhaul with representation from the FIU, Customs, Income Tax so that the management board has more government representation than that of the private sector. It would seem that there is little trust in the current CFZ administration. The master plan calls for an amalgamation and streamlining of the two current regimes at the border, namely, the CFZ and The Export Processing Zone (EPZ). It also recommends light manufacturing and upgrade to the internet bandwidth in order to attract more call centers to the area.
While the IDB gives many great recommendations, it may be too little too late. Just across the border, officials have wasted no time in identifying the problems in the local economy and putting policies in place to alleviate them. Already funds and foreign investors have been pledged to get the work done. Every year Corozal as a district has seen poverty and extreme poverty increase. The levels of unemployment are unacceptable as are the cost of living. Yet, at every speech our Prime Minister extolls the virtues of his administration’s economic policy and prowess.
The fact is that Corozal in particular is a delicately flowering retiree community. Recently due to the increase in crime, home invasions and murder expats are packing up and moving on. There are no plans for state of the art medical facilities in Corozal. There are no plans for affordable housing for retirees; there has been no concentrated effort on the part of the Government of Belize (GOB) to attract visitors to the North of Belize. The future needs no crystal ball to be clear. Unless GOB moves quickly and urgently with the required resources to the task, the CFZ and the economy of the entire Corozal District will be doomed. There are three Ministers from Corozal, do they know doomsday is near?