Speaking on the issue of unemployment was the Deputy Prime Minister Cordel Hyde who lamented on the fact that tens of thousands are without jobs. Perhaps the most alarming point made was that there is no rescue or relief in the near future.
Hon. Cordel Hyde, Minister of Natural Resources: “We are at a bad place right now. I think it’s very clear to all and it should be clear to all how bad things are in this country. We have 64,000 people who are unemployed, can’t find work. Another 82,000 people who are underemployed working but not enough, getting paid but not enough. Really really dire conditions that’s almost 70% of the labor force in this country who are either unemployed or underemployed with no respite in the immediate future and we are really really in a bad place in this country and we have to do something, we have to act. We can’t just wish away the problems that exist, we have to do something because not doing anything is not an option and so we’re trying to do that together in partnership, not unilaterally, not without consensus, not without discussions and that’s what we’re trying to do right now.”
Minister Hyde who has been in politics for decades told the media today that in his entire political career he has never seen so many people struggling.
Hon. Cordel Hyde, Minister of Natural Resources: “Seriously everybody is taking a lick. We see it everyday at our clinics. We see it everyday at our offices. This is unlike any other time I’ve ever seen in all of my life. People are saying to us listen sometimes we have to miss meals at night to ensure that our children get something to eat. People show us bills; hundreds, thousands of dollars to the utility companies that they can’t pay, they can’t eat so they can’t pay. I’ve seen more grown men cry in the last few weeks than I’ve seen in my entire life. What’s happening right now is unprecedented in this country- these are not ordinary times and so our commitment to the unions, our commitment to this nation is that it will be a shared sacrifice. We will do this together and we will do it in an equitable kind of way so that the people who can least afford any kind of cuts or challenges or adjustments, that they are sheltered and people who can afford it, they are dealt with so that we share the pain because we have to do it. We don’t have an option of not doing anything, we have to do something. What exactly we do that’s what we’re trying to figure out and we’re trying to do that in consultation with the unions but at the end of the day it’s about making sure that it works for us. In the past you’ve had decisions made about cost saving measures but no monitoring, no ensuring that it gets done so decisions are just made and nothing happens; we don’t have that luxury right now. Whatever final solution we reach we have to make sure it works because ultimately in the shortest possible time we want to get to the things that we’ve promised the Belizean people. We’ve promised the Belizean people jobs, we’ve promised them houses, we’ve promised them education opportunities, NHI we’ve not been able to do any of that.”