Tuesday, October 25, 2011



The Belize Marketing Board is in financial trouble THE REPORTER says in an article, this weekend. This is a quasi-government monopoly in some areas. Supposed to guarantee certain types of rural small farmer activity, by providing a market for the crops. They have been having trouble since I can ever remember, with finances and making payments for crops.
The startling news, or perhaps not so startling. Instead of being able to rely on the DEEP POCKETS of tax dollars to fund shortfalls, there has been an attempt to make the BMB a sort of commercial private sector type or profitable operation. Our own government being BROKE, or BANKRUPT doesn´t help. I don´t really see how you can make a quasi-private sector, for profit corporation, run by government appointees on salaries, a profitable one? There is no incentive to work properly and at personal sacrifice.
At any rate the BMB has a bank loan with the Belize Bank at 22% interest they say. Sort of almost credit card rates. The manager of BMB is Director Roque Mai.
The trouble came about from some sort of mismanagement in allocation of budgeted funds, to make second and third payments for small rice growers. They get three payments for their crop, staggered according to a time table. So Roque Mai of BMB unable to make small farmer payments and unable to get government funds from the general tax fund, or apparently Social Security Board, went to a commercial bank at some point and now finds himself and BMB so deep in the hole, he cannot dig his way out. I can imagine even on a 10% interest loan, the financial problems, a 22% interest loan boggles the mind. That is a hole so deep, they should dig their way to CHINA shortly.
This is a political issue and poor management. Obviously, they need a stronger manager, a better bookkeeper maybe and an auditor. The Toledo Rice Growers want the payments they were promised on schedule. They are noisy and quite vocal. The forgotten TOLEDO DISTRICT has become more political savvy the last ten years. They swing a lot of weight in political circles these days. If the port town run media were to spend more time on their issues, they would be a dominating force in national politics. Roque Mai was unable to meet the cash flow demands, and since all those VOTERS who are small rural rice farmers vote, he was cajoled and pressured, into getting money wherever he could by public and political pressure, to pay them.
The leader of the Toledo Rice farmers is Wilfred Denis Usher. Sounds like a smart cooky and he is definitely looking after the interests of his small rice farmers. The rice farmers are sort of like citrus and sugar cane farmers. The latter two have for decades been used to getting money out of the General Tax Funds when they need it, by parades, riots and such. Putting pressure on the politicians. Lot of votes there for the politicians. Now the RICE FARMERS have joined the band wagon. At issue is a need for $2 million. At 22% interest that will soon grow to $5 or $6 million. Obviously the Belize Bank loan needs to be cleared off the books somehow and fast.
TOLEDO DISTRICT is still the forgotten district for the most part. With a rapidly rising population due to new road access and various international development research programs. The population is probably one of the fastest growing population areas in the country. Everybody can smell success coming down the road, 10 or 15 years in the future, for this district. They have been getting more attention from the port town politicians and bureaucrats working in Belmopan the last few years. Not enough though, and TOLEDO does not get it´s fair share of National Revenue budget funds for infra-structure. The thing is; the rice farmers were promised certain prices for the crops ahead, and in the end the BMB a quasi-government private run institution has not managed the cash flow well enough to meet the promised payments. Since thousands of voters in the Southern Toledo District rely on those promised prices for their rice, they have learned to muster and organize the political will. They are also getting very good at using political pressure points, and are in fact outsmarting even the citrus and sugar cane farmers in manipulating the system of politics and government. Kudos to them for sure! The TOLEDO DISTRICT is certainly on the rise and one day will be a STAR, probably the ONLY STAR in the whole nation. They are literally lifting themselves up out of poverty by their bootstraps. Lots of government help of course and international GRANTS, and foreign aid in research and development. Now all they need is electricity service on a par with Belmopan and internet service and I see the time coming when the TOLEDO DISTRICT will be running the nation. In the meantime, how does a BANKRUPT government find $2 million to rescue and restructure how the Belize Marketing Board is run? The question of course is should they? Since Roque Mai is a government employee of some quasi sort, I guess that leaves us taxpayers responsible through our area reprentatives, in the management committee called our CABINET? The buck stops there!

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