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Nov 2, 2012

The P.M.’s Economic Summit with the private sector

Prime Minister Dean Barrow will be holding meetings in the next few days in Miami with financial advisors on the restructuring of the super bond. On the ground here, a team from the International Monetary Fund is conducting a review of government’s capacity to meet debt obligations. And on Thursday, Prime Minister met with the private sector to discuss economic issues at the second annual economic forum. The P.M. had positives and negatives to report, but government’s biggest challenge is crime. News Five’s Jose Sanchez reports.

 

Jose Sanchez, Reporting

The second Business Forum under the theme “Partnering for Growth” was held at the Old Belize Pavillion. Both private and public sector representatives gathered for the forum that was engineered to foster economic growth and jobs. The Prime Minister gave the main address in which he outlined some changes in the economy.

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

Dean Barrow

“Our economy has continued to grow, although that growth is still below desirable rates and below, we think, our potential capacity. Last year’s economic expansion was about two point five, but there will be some uptick this year with the Central Bank projecting as much as a full percentage point in GDP increase.”

 

The stabilization of the sugar industry along with future expansion by American Sugar Refinery and the investment of a new grower in the west are both projecting growth. But another pertinent industry is drying up.

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“On the negative side, there has been a faster than expected decline in petroleum production and exports and this has had a substantial impact on the fiscal accounts. The ongoing seismic surveys and the current drilling operation in the northwest of the country have not yet produced a replacement for the B.N.E. production principally at Spanish Lookout.”

 

The winding down of recent anti-crime work programs and the less than stellar gang truce has made it necessary for the government to rethink a crime strategy, or as the prime minister says “wheel and come again.”

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“Security is now a critically important business cost area; that there is no way we can give in to a climate that holds entire communities including the commercial sector hostage. So Government will wheel and come again. We have re-strategized, we will re-mobilize, we will re-operationalize. We believe we have finally found a way to get the shooters off the streets and into an institution. Thus, together with our social partners and the citizenry, we will employ new means to lick this problem. And in doing so, we will utilize every resource, we will spend every dollar, we will pay every price until once and for all we get this thing under control and take our country back.”

 

And in the country is the IMF whom the Prime Minister recently met with to restructure the tax system and also to improve the Superbond Debt Management capacity.

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“The tax review for Belize is now a priority item. Of course there are multiple objectives that we seek to obtain by way of the tax reform and to hear that the consummation which we have all devoutly wished may well be at hand, Madam Kay, I’m sure is music to your ears. Clearly there is a need for equity across the society in the payment of taxes, but there is also a need for revenue for the Government if it is to be able to carry out its functions.”

 

The P.M. challenged entrepreneurs to and visionaries to invest in the moment as there is currently one hundred and thirty-one million dollars in excess liquidity in the banking system.

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“There there is still the issue of a widening spread between deposit and lending rates—and what I am sure the governor will also address. The fact is that the latter is at an historic low of twelve point two-three percent. So in terms of both the quantity and cost of capital, the winds are in the private sector’s sails. Plus, there is foreign exchange aplenty; I think some four months worth. Surely, then, there is opportunity for more entrepreneurship, ingenuity and business community risk taking and can-do. I say very simply that the chances should not be allowed to go begging.”

 

Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

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3 Responses for “The P.M.’s Economic Summit with the private sector”

  1. Storm says:

    Before GOB raises taxes because it needs money “to carry out its functions,” I think everyone should step back and reach a consensus on what LEGITIMATE government functions are.

    I really think they are very few:

    1. Military and police security [including border security].
    2. Public education for all children.
    3. Emergency [life-threatening] healthcare and perhaps a safety net of affordable basic healthcare.
    4. Public infrastructure like roads and bridges.
    5. Paying off national debt. [And not incurring any more, unless we are at actual war!]

    Everything else can and should be done by private organizations, companies, and individuals. Government does not legitimately put gang members on its payroll. Government does not legitimately pay taxpayers money to dead Guat invaders or any other criminals.

    So let’s analyze what government really SHOULD do, and then make a transparent budget. I will bet that there is plenty of revenue to pay for legitimate activities already.

    What do you say?

  2. Ricky Malthus says:

    In meetings with the private sector, the business leaders must tell IMF and Barrow’s corrupt government that GST must be eliminated. GST is double taxation and shrinks our economy by $200 million annually, not to mention the negative multiplying effect based on the marginal propensity to consume. Barrow must collect $200 million more from Oil companies to replace loss of GST. Banks have excess liquidity because interest rates are too excessive. Reduce the rates to 7% and there will be willing takers. Employment must be high on the agenda coupled with reducing the ravages of inflation and increasing real wages not money illusion.

  3. Seletar says:

    Storm and Malthus, I agree with your approaches. Taxes are already too high to let the economy boom — the problem with GOB’s purse is wasteful spending on unnecessary programs and handouts, and theft, pure and simple. I’d like to put every member of cabinet on a lie detector and see if we can detect a single honest one. I wouldn’t bother testing Vega, though, because he proudly proclaims he’s a thief.

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