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Mar 17, 2015

Is Unprecedented Spending on Short-term Jobs a Good Thing?

Hugh O’Brien

Over the next few weeks we’ll be taking a closer look at the budget, but one area demands immediate attention. It’s difficult to ignore the scope of the infrastructure works across the country, largely funded by Petrocaribe monies and other concessionary loans. Former C.E.O. in the Ministry of National Development, which evolved into the Ministry of Economic Development, says that the unprecedented spending on short-term jobs can be a good thing.

 

Hugh O’Brien, Former C.E.O., Ministry of National Development

“The government has decided to keep its thrust on and using these low-cost, low-interest financing, loans, to have a major thrust in infrastructure. So if you look at the budget 2014-2015 and the proposed budget 2015-2016, you hear about repaving of the Hummingbird Highway, finishing the road to Guatemala in Jalacte; repaving the Western Highway from Belmopan to San Ignacio…and you hear of these kinds of projects, the Blue Creek Road that’s being completed with EU funding—Orange Walk to Blue Creek. So it’s a good time to invest low-interest money in your infrastructure because those infrastructures can help to improve your economy because goods and services can go through those or use those infrastructures and there is less wear and tear on your vehicle and you can take advantage of exports to Guatemala through Blue Creek, through the south, etc., etc. The challenge with that…and that’s good in another sense because you create a fair amount of jobs, even though they are short-term. And so what you’ve seen in Belize’s economic and labor context, since 2012….2012 unemployment rate was at fourteen point four percent. 2013 was at twelve point six percent and 2014 was at eleven point four or something like that. That was an average overall, but that coming down has a lot to do with government’s direct capital spending and the creation of short term jobs.”

 

We’ll be taking a closer look at the Budget in the next couple weeks leading up to the debate on March twenty-sixth and twenty-seventh.

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