Barrow’s Beds

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This past week did not bode well for our environment, which is the main reason for our booming tourism industry.  The New River in the North continues to be polluted by industrial waste and the Macal, once a pristine source of fresh water for the Twin Towns, has now become a dump site for garbage.  There are many meetings, but no real political will or action to stop big money from killing our rivers.  On the other hand, Compol is gearing up to make a big splash with new Gala Uniforms for the Top Brass of the Police.  Inquiring minds would like to know what the planned Galas are celebrating, could it be the increase in crime, the dismal conviction rate, or the rise in gender based violence we currently experience?  Perhaps these uniforms will be used at fundraising Galas as the Police Department is now forced to occupy their time in raising funds for their transport and equipment rather than crime fighting, prevention and conviction.

LPG, most know it as butane gas used for cooking and increasingly for transport.  An increase in the price of LPG will almost certainly trigger an increase in price of food.  At the most recent House Meeting the PM unveiled his macabre pièce de résistance, a calculated move, to hit the 43% of Belizeans that live in poverty hard.  The plan to create a National Gas Company, a monopoly, of which GOB will own minority shares of only 25% will serve only to ensure that the small group of elite investors have absolutely no competition.  One of the most rudimentary principles of Economics is that absolute control of the supply in a given market will result in a monopoly that sets its own prices, invariably quite above the average market value.  First year sixth form Economics students can tell you that it is competition that leads to lower prices because multiple suppliers compete for consumers by lowering prices and becoming more efficient and effective in the process.  Monopolies stifle investment and employment.  Government sanctioned and endorsed monopolies are bad for Belize, because they erode foreign investor confidence.  This leads to even more unemployment and poverty for our country, but even more importantly it leads to a greater disparity of wealth among Belizeans.

The truth is that this monopoly will benefit no one but a handful of Barrow’s elite friends.  This is a bad deal for the majority of Belizeans who are struggling to make ends meet.  Already our middle class is like a fish in the New River, belly up and in danger of extinction, when it finally disappears our country will be left with a majority of peasants, living in extreme poverty.  The PM and few of his favourite friends will be the elite who in fact own and operate Belize.

Most notable in this new deal is that the monopoly will enjoy many perks such as no restrictions to sell directly to the retail market.  Prices will not be subject to scrutiny by the PUC or the Bureau of Standards.  The building phase will not generate any GST or import duties and more alarmingly there will be no foreign exchange controls.  The building of the facilities will be subject only to GOB’s tendering process, and we all know how that works out.  All in all, PM has prepared a bed of roses for his friends.  The Belize Business Bureau (BBB) says this is nothing but a “seed bed for corrupt practices.”  But we say that the PM likes his beds and this is just another that joins his collection which already has the notorious “hotbed of corruption.”  We must remember to be extremely careful when elections come Belizeans… “So we make our bed, so we must lie on it.”