Sunday, September 7, 2008

News items of interest to Western Belize

Sept. 5th, 2008


The Foreign Affairs Department of the Government of Belize responded with clarifications to the public in a press conference down on the coast, in the main port town and Belize District capital. The press conference was carried into Western Belize Recreational, Industrial and Agricultural Area of the Cayo District in the TWIN TOWNS of Santa Elena and San Ignacio by Bayman Cable, from several of the local port town television stations using the BTL fiber optic cable running along the Western Highway 70 miles away from the coast out to Western Belize. This small port town is the major source of the advertising, for television and newspapers originating in Belize City, down on the coast, which was once the old colonial capital of Belize. These media people down on the coast do most of the investigative reporting for the nation of six districts composing Belize. The Belize government thus feels the need to travel from Belmopan the central interior capital of the country, to this one coastal district town, to make major policy announcements.
The press conference concluded by the Foreign Affairs Department said at a major hotel conference center; explained that they had been negotiating the Economic Partnership Agreement with Europe for about three years and that because of the status of our $132 million dollars of sugar and bananas being shipped to European buyers, it was felt we had no choice but to sign the EPA contract, or possibly lose these exports. These very small agriculture industries are believed to be majority owned by foreign UK shareholders? The Foreign Affairs Department never gave any assurance, that signing the EPA contract with the European Union would guarantee access for our bulk commodity products into Europe at preferential tariffs and that point was left unclear for the ten year estimate of the EU EPA contract.. It was said though, that if we do not sign this EPA contract with the European Union, we could be cut off at any time without notice for our sugar and bananas. This was the threat and intimidation offered by our government rationalization. The GROSS NATIONAL PRODUCT of Belize is about $1.2 billion Belizean dollars. The bulk commodity exports to the European Union in danger of EU retaliation is worth 10% of our GDP. The amount of customs taxes currently going to general revenues to support the government, which are going to be lost for EU preferential treatment of duty free exports to Belize is small, but significant to the precarious nature of Belize government finances. No government since independence in the early 1980’s, has had the money management skills to run the government within the tax revenues collected, through to the present day. Waste, political corruption and mismanagement are blamed by the public, by self serving piratical political parties, whose only aim seems to be in making the members rich off the tax trough? The new government elected in February of 2008 is making small inroads into correcting the culture of corruption, though not with too much success yet.


Export truckers going through the Benque, Cayo District Western Border post, into Guatemala with cargo, may be misunderstanding what is going on? Ordinarily a driver of a truck with a cargo from Belize for export, with all the red tape paperwork, permits, licenses, etc., required by various bureaucratic institutions, has only to present all his stamped paper work and clear Immigration with his passport, when he proceeds to the Guatemalan side, border checkpoint and the cargo is then inspected by the Guatemalan authorities. Recently truckers are complaining that the BORDER AUTHORITY in Belize, a privatized type quasi government service controlling customs and immigration departures and arrivals, have been slamming down the road barrier and insisting that further inspection of the truck cargos must be carried out in Belize by the Border Management Authority. A fee of $20 per truck is being charged for this Belize inspection they say, but when they ask to see the supervisor of the Border Management Authority and request a copy of the new printed regulations regarding this inspection fee, they are refused on the grounds such information is private and not available to the general public. Since once the fee is paid, the gate barrier is then lifted and the truck is allowed to proceed to the Guatemalan side of the border for a real cargo inspection, before entering that country and no inspection actually occurs on the Belize side; truck drivers feel they are being ripped off in some sort of corruption extortionist scam, like practices in Mexico.


Sixteen trucks have been conveying corn grown in Belize, to El Salvador across Guatemala for over a month. Corn grown in Belize is known by the United Nations and in Central America, as the only corn in Central America, to be without genetic meddling and is much sought after. Exports in general on new products, to Honduras, Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico are steadily increasing year by year in small increments from Belize. The HEARTLAND of BELIZE grows most of the corn in Belize and this area runs from the Western Highway, just West of the capital of Belmopan, through the Cayo and Orange Walk Districts, going North for over 75 miles. Small by USA standards, but important for Belize nevertheless.



Belize has a shortage of entrepreneurs with special skills. High on the list of desired immigrants are persons with skills in processing and packaging food products, for small cottage industries, for local fruit pulps in the tropics and things like dried fruit for snacks, pemmican, pepperoni, salty bacon, habenero pepper paste, tomato paste, etc. The local market is still small, but Belize enjoys a growing market in the nearby Central American countries, 35 million people, also preferential tax treatment for exporting to the fourteen CARICOM countries, 15 million people, and sometime later this month, will enjoy preferential tax treatment for exporting, niche, gourmet, food products to the European Market of over 450 million people and the Caribbean diaspora. Belizeans welcome Europeans, North Americans and even Central and South American immigrants, who can bring skills and business to Belize. The population of Belize is about 300,000 people and there is a growing demand to utilize the agriculture capabilities in Belize, presently underutilized. For European retirees with skills and a little cash flow, contributing to the growth of the Belize economy makes for a highly desirable immigrant. Right now the immigrant flow is a trickle, though there were a 40,000 backlog of passports alleged in Immigration last year, being dealt with by about a dozen bureaucrats for new immigrants. The business opportunities are wide open and the Belize frontier still has lots of land and often in remoter rural areas, government owned land is cheap. A century and a half ago, in the USA it was “go West “young man. Today, you should think of changing your life and immigrate to Belize young man. Why live in difficult metropolitan areas in the USA, Canada, China, Taiwan and European countries? You can make a good life in the rural tropics of Belize, the climate is great, with most of the time five months of delightful summer and the rest of the year like ETERNAL SPRING, living is good and none of that people congestion like industrialized countries. Our living standard in Belize is comparable to industrialized nations. We all have refrigerators, flush toilets, washing machines, cars, bicycles, televisions and most have computers these days and I-PODS. At least one third of Belizean adults have traveled a large part of the world as tourists. Belize is a well known country as a foreign tourist play ground and the major popular recreational places are the two hundred off shore islands along the Great Coral Barrier Reef, with their emerald green protected waters and the hilly and mountainous Western Belize Recreation Area of the Cayo District. A web page of experiences and costs of retiring in Belize. A web page for both upscale accommodations and budget dormitory guests The center of ADVENTURES in Cayo District, Western Belize.

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