Thursday, February 10, 2011


*** Belize Chamber of Commerce - Belize TV program. This photo was of a different program, subject matter and panel. (File photo)


The Chamber on TV had a program with 3 participants. Alpuche, Canton and somebody else I don´t remember. They were all articulate, experienced and had worked inside in government jobs and outside in the private sector. I gather they were all salaried type employees. Though CANTON is reputed to be juggling a lot of balls in the air as far as businesses go. All more power to him. The three men, were all in their prime. I feel like an old FART nowadays, compared to them.
Surprisingly, I agreed with them and thought the discussion was a nice in depth look at our nation, the business practices and where the problems lie. It was nice to note that their opinions had changed since switching from working inside the government bureaucracy in their youth, to a more mature broad outlook after moving to the outside private sector. Let me see if I can remember the highlights. I´m sorry I did not take more notes at the time.
1) The biggest problem is the government bureaucracy. They are wasting their hours of paid work on useless endeavors. BELTRAIDE came to mind as mentioned as supposedly a one stop shopping for investment, which FAILED in bureaucratic malaise.
You might as well close that department, and put the money where it can be used more effectively. Buy a bridge or something. The biggest problem government has; is that departments and ministries are fighting each other for budget money and not inter-acting to best efficiency and tax payers monies spent. Lot of TURF WARS going on, between different government units. The panel said such competition has gotten worse, much worse over the last ten years. The panel had no corrective solutions to offer, but as an older man, I can offer one. The political party needs to reduce the CABINET to 7 members. Stop the Cabinet Minister padding of prestigious titles. Prune the tree so we can get inter department workability. That would boost efficiencies for money spent. This of course goes against the political grain, as it cuts Ministerial earnings, and the opportunities, for graft, bribes, and embezzlement. The British ministerial system does not work well for the country, only for the Ministers.
2) The money spent on trade shows, with the same 6 exporters participating internationally should be scrapped, the monies re-allocated to something useful. Like helping MOM and POP businesses get started. The small cottage industries need development assistance. How for instance is the government going to help the 7 or so, chocolate candy makers become exporters? They cannot fill a container with reefer cooling. Yet there are markets for niche chocolate products both in Europe, North America and Asia. Obviously so far, nobody in any government department have yet a CLUE, on how to help these small start ups get going. I tried to phone in this question to the panel, but no answer, just busy signals.
3) The patchwork legislation from colonial exploitation days was described as a CUT AND PASTE mess, that often contradicts from one page, or paragraph to another with regulations. The legislation for business was analyzed by these eminent gentlemen at the peak of their experience in Belize years, as being ARCHAIC and ANTI-BUSINESS. Particularly anti-small business against startups with their procedures, processes and regulations. I couldn´t agree more and any knowledgeable private sector person would agree. So how do you change what was legislation designed by British Law to promote comparatively BIG British interests and colonial investment exploitation on a larger investment scale, to the needs of a modern Belize just growing in both population and employment job needs, and foreign exchange earnings in a more diversified manner?
Most important, how do you change the legislation, to promote small private sector business ventures by the ambitious hardworking but basically export needing uneducated illiterate small producer, who has ambitions, but no role model other than Marie Sharp to follow.
I was helped in my day, or youth by Mr. Anderson, Bank Manager of Belize City in the 1960´s and here was my story.

Famous motorsailer, 34 ft ATOLL QUEEN, a wood boat from 1969 and our Island Traders Ltd., company Hideaway Lodge on the beach in the background at Caye Caulker. We bought the property and lodge by creating a start up company and selling shares to tourists who became family friends. Nellie Price in the port at the time, drew up the company charter and Mr. Anderson, the manager of Royal Bank of Canada taught me how to control the shares and Board of Directors of the company for the future, by creating an A class and common B class set of shares to sell. ( photo and extract taken from BELIZE CAYE CAULKER HISTORY PHOTOS PAGE, on the WESTERN BELIZE HAPPENINGS BLOG )

In the 1960´s I taught these company formation lessons to a generation of 5th and 6th primary school children as their school teacher, who in turn went home and told their parents and showed them their lesson notebooks on Caye Caulker. Caye Caulker boomed as they grew up and their parents, some of them incorporated their own businesses by selling shares. All those two generations retired wealthy and passed on their knowledge to their children, who are now the adults on the island of Caye Caulker. This island is still one of the richest small communities in ALL of the Americas. They learned how to unite, sell shares, re-invest and budget.

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