In recent months there has been a series of national economic issues coming at the forefront with no direct or definitive solutions at hand. There has been the issue of correspondent banking and the regional implications and there have been the issue of sustainability in several areas of agriculture as well as the fall in oil prices. Collectively, these issues are ingredients for a major economic collapse if not tackled directly by the Government of Belize. Recently elected Opposition Leader, John Briceno spoke of the direction he sees our country going.
“Unfortunately for Belize it is not good and I don’t relish in saying that because I want it to go good in Belize. I’m a Belizean like everybody else and if it goes good for Belize then it goes well for all of us. Unfortunately that is not happening. We have a government that is completely out of touch with reality. When you look at Papayas closing down, sugar prices have gone down dramatically, we lost about six months of production in Shrimp, we’re not going to go into production until about June or July, citrus greening continues to affect us, we’ve gone down from a height of almost seven million boxes of oranges for export to under four million boxes so that is a drop of about three million boxes of citrus products that is having a direct impact not only on the factory but even on the farmers themselves. When you look down south in the banana industry we have a company that has about 1,000 acres of banana that they can’t export. Produce is just rotting in the fields and if the banana growers can’t sell it they are not going to break it from the tree because that is going to cost, if they don’t bring it down then all of that is going to rot.”
Briceno added that there is no sense of urgency coming out of Belmopan as hundreds are losing their jobs and the industries continue to face possible collapse.
“Here we have all these industries facing these severe challenges and we don’t feel a sense of urgency from the government. As you rightly pointed out PetroCaribe money is finished over $300 million dollars have been squandered. $44.7 million alone in the month of October, the month before the elections. So all of this is gone, interest rates are going up and very little economic activity so it’s going to be a rough time for Belize and I wish I could say differently.”
According to the Opposition Leader, his party will be tackling these issues in the coming weeks.