The last national data collected back in 2018 by the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB) shows that 52 percent of the population is within the poverty line. This percentage amounts to over two hundred thousand citizens who earn less than seven hundred dollars per month. With the Covid-19 pandemic hovering on the global scale, that number has undoubtedly increased significantly. It is one of the crucial national issues that the government is faced with. According to CEO in the Ministry of Economic Development, Dr Osmond Martinez, this is an issue that is at the forefront for the government.
Dr Osmond Martinez, CEO, Ministry of Economic Development: “We need to generate jobs and so we are working on that aspect on seeing how we can create more jobs but to get there we need to help the micro, small and medium enterprises especially in the productive sector and we have been doing this through different programs. The number one remedy to solve the issue of poverty is education. As a nation we need to increase our human capital which means that for example between 2010 and 2020 there was almost five thousand students that dropped out at the transition stage between primary and secondary; between primary school and high school. That created a huge opportunity for the population that lived below the poverty line to grow. Why? Because the higher the level of education the higher is your income there is a strong correlation between both components. The second component that is key is health. The health system plays a main role in the way how we deal with poverty in a nation because a healthy nation is an asset to a country. An unhealthy nation becomes a burden to a country and so the health system also we have to look at it closely in order to try to reduce poverty. But these are two main components education and health.”