Wednesday, July 15, 2009


* Pensive Barrow


( Prime Minister castigates the IMF and World Bank )

I don’t know if the Prime Minister of Belize talks every Wednesday morning or not on television. If not, it would be a good idea to give us an idea of what the government is doing, or planning on doing. To make a long story short, I had taken some tourists down to the bus stop, picked up a young worker who drops by periodically on the school break to look for odd job work and gave him some assignments for a half day, to help him out. Anyway, after completing Gustavo’s new training, preliminary learning lesson for this week, on market direction study, for trading purposes. ( He has expressed interest in learning how to trade and offered to put in some money ) I finally got around at 8:30 a.m., to turning on the TV looking for a brief summary of yesterday’s evening news this morning. Accidentally I ran across Dean Barrow our Prime Minister on Wave Television. So I tuned in and tuned out my chores out for a while.
The few points he covered and he speaks very slowly, but uses a very good vocabulary. I can understand him, even though am unable to express myself with such magnificent language. Being a retired fisherman I’m more comfortable with a more limited vocabulary. I do admire a good usage of words that I read of in books though, even though I would never use such language in my own conversations. As a country bumpkin I find it interesting to hear words, I have only read in books, but never used in speech.
That said, we are going to raise the UDP government approval rating by 1%, from 46% to 47 % on the basis of his explanations of how he is trying to get the government and mini governments and autonomous institutions to run, in a decentralized manner. Decentralization is what we need. However a lot of our talent pool, of age to serve, are not very well educated, but the next generation is. As he said, corruption of some sort is part and parcel of any government and he is embarrassed for his political party and government when it occurs on his watch. He did say, that bad as the perception is in the public mind, whenever there is evidence, it will be given to the Police and the Director of Public Prosecutions to deal with. Never mind if it is UDP either. Of course under our winner take all parliamentary party system, any corruption these days is inevitably by UDP people. He did qualify his statements that what corruption is occurring is minimal compared to the hundreds of millions under the PUP that disappeared. One newspaper had recently inferred that a PUP Cabinet Minister was heard bragging of having $500 million. How much of this is reality and not just smooth political speech making remains to be seen. We are skeptical. I agree progressively, we have to make the government operate more effectively and this is the way to do it, which he is trying to work, with as he says a lot of GREEN people. Thus the 1% increase in approval.
I did not like the concentration of the interview on the port town Belize City matters. Given the composition of the WAVE program, it was all Belize City denizens and one can understand their attitudes from their ex-colonial capital viewpoint. There are a lot of brilliant people in the rural productive areas able to differ, but apparently we are ruled by a greedy port town intellectual elite and most everything discussed was either about, or for the interests of what the port town denizens thought. Treating the rest of us people in the six districts of the country as second class citizens.
I found interesting that the Prime Minister was complaining that the IMF and the World Bank are not functioning for Belize, or the third world in general. His example was that CANADA had paid $15 million through the World Bank back 18 months ago, to help Belize mostly to do with agricultural projects so long ago, and while these institutions like the IMF were getting donations from more developed countries which their responsibility was to distribute same to the developing third world, they had failed to do so. The BLOCKAGE was apparently within the IMF and the WORLD BANK according to his explanation. I guess they are speculating on earning interest rates?
On the subject of the Maya I sort of disagreed with him. Having traveled widely in the TOLEDO DISTRICT with the Indian Officer during Colonial times of British Honduras, I know that Dolores, Otaxa, San Antonio, Crique Sarco, San Miguel, San Pedro Columbia and so forth existed way back in 1959 and 1960. Certainly there were nobody else back in those jungles. What surprised me recently was to read in the newspapers, that huge estates, or tracts of lands back there were owned by old colonial family estates. I thought under the stewardship of old LANDS CABINET MINISTER, Sandy Hunter, the government had put in a program of taxes on unused land and those estates that were given or granted huge lands in earlier colonial days were taxed by doubling the taxes each year in rural areas, unless they were utilized. This was done in the North in the Corozal district I know, to provide land for smaller sugar cane farmers. It was a policy of the time in the 1960’s that land had to be used, or would revert back to the government as crown lands, acquired through paying for accumulated back taxes, that estates could not pay, but could transfer acreage for in a swap for money and owed land back taxes. Creating a government crown land bank sort of. I thought it was effective at the time and quite good. Use it or lose it was the motto. For development purposes, land belongs to those that will use it. When I read in the newspapers recently that some colonial descendant now, wanted to evict villagers from his private estate lands, that he owned and inherited around Dolores and Otaxa, that surprised me and the descendant had come back here to Belize to live. I would have thought that the old colonial times family would have lost the land a long time ago and it would have returned back to the land bank, as clearly by walking on foot and flying by small airplane, it was unused land for decades. Something is very wrong here, or the tax process was applied selectively and politically. That said, I am for all the old Indian villages prior to 1960 getting a small reservation, consummate with the size of the population of that year, that then existed, to the limit of 30 acres of land per family according to a 1960 census. What they do with it after that is their business. It would legitimately honor any decent settlement to the ancient Maya, in a remote district that is only now becoming available for development purposes.
On the subject of the new Bill to give Belizeans with dual nationality rights of entering elections ( they vote, why not? )Barrow was ambivalent. From what I surmise, he only really has the feeling of Belmopan and the port of Belize City. In the other six districts we are overwhelming in favor of it. If he is going to form an opinion on solely a narrow segment ethnic section of the population and has doubts, then he should put it to a referendum.


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