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Nov 1, 2012

Business Forum opens to bridge private and public sector

With the economic engine barely stuttering, the second Business Forum under the motto Partnering for Growth, opened today at Old Belize. The forum is designed to provide an opportunity for Government and the private sector in Belize to discuss ways to improve opportunities and expand jobs on all levels. At the first forum last year, the Prime Minister appointed members to the Economic Development Council (EDC).  The EDC is a steering committee comprised of public and private sector members tasked to make recommendations to PM on issues impeding economic development.  According to Mike Singh, C.E.O., in the lengthy titled Ministry of Trade, Investment, Private Sector Development and Consumer Protection, the council would also make policy recommendations to strengthen economic growth.

 

Mike Singh, C.E.O., Min. of Trade, Investment, Private Sector Dev. & Consumer Protection

Mike Singh

“Government on our part is highly committed to the partnership and have recently submitted a request for support through the Inter-American Development Bank for establishing a permanent institution for ongoing public sector/private sector partnership; that is to say for formalizing our marriage. It is our firm belief that through this formal partnership we will be able to tackle and solve vexing problems to attain the level of competitiveness and productivity that we desire. Today we will speak of issues that were raised last year and we will also attempt to update you on what efforts have been taken in those respects. We will also speak of other issues that have arisen since last year and on no doubt highlight issues which seem insurmountable like the epidemic of crime that seems to overshadow our everyday’s. Why we deliberate, however, it is important that we maintain the one element that can help us to prevail; that ladies and gentlemen is the element of hope.”

 

Kay Menzies

Kay Menzies, President of Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry

“It is not an easy thing to one; get the private and public sector to speak and understand each other’s language, two; to decide what from a fairly long list of urgent issues should and can be tackled first, three; to decide how best to tackle that which we decide to tackle. We as private sector do know that it can and should be much easier to start and run a business. We know that access to finance is most often an issue and most of all we know that the cost of doing business is too high—to high because of layers of taxation, security costs, transportation and utilities; to name a few key factors. These are some of the issues that we brought up at the last forum.  And there are issues that had been presented and discussed at the Economic Development Council. You will be updated today on these and others and hopefully you will provide your feedback as it is key to what happens next. I should also add that in the course of all these learning experiences, it has been tremendously helpful both to the EDC as a body and to the private sector itself to have Misses Amparo Mason brought on board as the Director of Public/Private Sector Dialogue. Misses Mason appointment was also made by the Prime Minister based on the need for such a position identified by you at the last forum. There is no arguing about the fact that a strong public/private sector partnership is essential to the development of any economy.”

 

You may have heard Singh mention crime. We were not able to bring you the government’s new strategy to deter crime because someone had a less than bright idea to put the media out of the building after the opening ceremonies. However, the Prime Minister mentioned that the strategy included working with the courts. He said that they would utilize some little known laws that would allow, “people to be put away in the context of their anti social behavior.” The PM also said they would strengthen the police department with a financial push to ensure that they are properly equipped. We’ll have more on the forum on Friday’s newscast.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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