This week the Government of Belize continues to indulge their delusion feeding it with a veritable smorgasbord of alternative facts. The manipulation, organization and presentation of data in order that it paints the rosy, glowing picture of a robust economy is now standard practice. It seems the PM has employed the use of Snapchat filters complete with rosy cheeks and cute butterflies to hide the fact that our economy is not all he has led us to believe. If the filter slides even just a bit we can catch a glimpse of the sallow, sickly economy that lies underneath.
The Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB) this last week issued the Labour Force survey as of September 2019. Needless to say as compared to the previous dated April 2019 the figures, as everything else under this GOB, simply just do not add up. Let us consider that the explanation for the 2.7 percentage increase in the unemployment rate between April and September is that the labour force grew faster than the rate at which jobs were created not withstanding the creation of 5,600 new jobs. How is it possible for the labour force to increase by 6.5 percent in a six month period given that for decades the entire population of Belize only increases by less than 3 percent annually? According to the figures the number of unemployed persons grew from 13,658 to 19,849 or a staggering 45 percent increase in unemployment in just six months. The underemployment figure is just as important and equally alarming since it increased from just around twenty five thousand persons to about thirty eight thousand. This is essentially a 52 percent increase in underemployment where persons are working anywhere from just one hour to less than thirty five hours per week.
Of particular note and interest is that the Belize District has managed to almost double their unemployment rate from 6.8 in April to 12.5 in September. The median monthly income has plummeted yet again to 1,134. The UDP manage these incredible feats of mismanagement under the veil of heavy statistical misrepresentation to claim a robust and prosperous economy. The UDP promised no new taxes, a decrease in the cost of living, and a reduction in the poverty rates. This week we witnessed Prime Minister Barrow side with BIG Business Interests against the little man. Two Cents Tracy then defended the position that a floor for LPG prices and legislation to penalize those who sell below the government regulated price is the answer to freeze market forces in Belize. It has become necessary to protect the twenty five retailers over the interests of over 70 percent of households in this country who would enjoy a few months respite from crippling prices.
It is ridiculous in the extreme, the extent to which the PM will risk his beloved legacy to protect this latest scheme. The Better Business Bureau has called the National Gas Company “the worst idea of the decade,” citing that the government is incapable of regulating itself and will bring more taxes and promote inefficiency and hardship. Supply and demand are the market forces that regulate prices. It is a given that competition reduces prices and that ultimately beneficial to consumers. The UDP must answer why they place Big Business interests over the interests of the Ordinary Belizean whom they serve. Or is it that it is their own interests they prioritize? We have been shafted time and again as we were reminded by Hon Cordel Hyde, but the sad reality is that Cabinet has been the instrument. The Christmas Cheer is all set and hopefully there will be a little something extra in cash to buy the fuel needed for cooking the hams these turkeys will be handing out. #NOMORESHAFT