By Gilroy Usher, Sr.
“Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not.” – Robert Kennedy
To create more necessary jobs for Belizeans to uplift themselves, the government needs to put more emphasis on expanding the productive sector. One of the areas of production that would save the country tremendous foreign exchange and result in the creation of hundreds of jobs for Belizeans is the manufacturing of plastic products.
The making of plastic products in Belize would result in minimum spoilage, because the products are not perishable.
There is an annual multi-million dollar market in Belize for a wide range of plastic products including bags, plates, and household containers of all sizes and shapes. There is also a huge demand locally for small bottles, gallon containers, and drums that are made from plastic. Mention must also be made of the huge local market for chairs, tables, curtains, and pipes that are made from plastic. How can a plastic factory be counterproductive to our development?
If the government is serious about empowering the people with steady jobs, they can sell shares locally and internationally to raise the necessary funds for the establishment of a plastic factory in the country. That would be similar to what they did to raise funds for the establishment of the National Gas Company (N.G.C.). Similarly the administration can pass the necessary legislation to secure the local market for plastic products that are made by Belizeans just as they have done to reserve the local LGP market exclusively for N.G.C.
With the successful growth of the new company, the government can also sell its shares in the investment and use that liquidity to engineer the start of another needed company in the country. One other such necessary company in Belize is a sewing factory. Mr. UDP where are the hundreds of millions of dollars from PetroCaribe and oil in our time of need? We continue to import millions of dollars in clothing including uniforms that can be produced locally, because that’s in the best interest of the Ministers and the importers.
Talking points that a plastic factory would not be a good investment for Belize because of the efforts to ban plastic products due to their pollution of the environment as non-degradable items are a far cry from reality. More than 1/4 of all the items in homes, stores, offices, factories, vehicles, and machines are made with the use of plastic in some form. Like glass the use of plastic is here to stay. Men, however, will continue to use science to make plastic products more user-friendly to all forms of life and the environment.
Importers of plastic products in the Belize and the foreign countries that supply them with those items will always do everything possible to persuade the government not to support the opening of a plastic factory in the country. Their reasoning is obvious. A reputable and competitive local plastic firm will result in a major decline in profits for those persons who import such items and less jobs and revenue for the countries that export those products.
If Belize can offer tax breaks and other incentives to promote the opening of casinos and other gaming companies with all their negative consequences, we can offer similar incentives to promote the opening of a plastic factory in the Jewel.
Now, four decades after Independence, the UDP and their chosen importers continue to become multimillionaires by forcing our usage of imported products that can be made locally with good quality and at competitive prices. We have to think outside the box. We must put an end to this selfish strangulation of our economy, job creation, and development for all Belizeans.