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Jun 5, 2013

The launch of the Caribbean Growth Forum Belize Chapter

The Caribbean Growth Forum was launched this morning. It is a collaboration of private and public sectors. Three areas for dialogue including: Investment Climate; Logistics and Connectivity; and Skills and Productivity were discussed at the launch. The business group examined the relevance of sustainable growth in Belize and how the forum will support the government’s growth policy.  The Director of the Public/Private Sector Dialogue from the Office of the Prime Minister, Amparo Masson, addressed the gathering.

 

Amparo Masson, Director of Public/Private Sector Dialogue, Office of PM

Amparo Masson

“As Belize joins twelve other Caribbean countries that have launched their own chapters of the Caribbean Growth Forum initiative in their jurisdictions, the launch of Belize’s chapter emphasizes government’s commitment to the strengthening of the partnership—an open commitment first made in November 2011whne the Prime Minister hosted his first business forum as a means of formalizing dialogue with private sector.  At that forum, the Prime Minister appointed a steering committee to give follow through to the issues raised by the private sector and to give continuity to the dialogue process. This council which comprises equal representation from both sectors; co-chaired by the C.E.O. in the Ministry of Trade, Private Sector Development and Consumer Protection and the President of the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry, has now evolved to what is known as the Economic Development Council. Shortly after the business forum, the Prime Minister also announced the appointment of a liaison for two sectors to become resident in the office of Prime Minister. In May 2012 that office now called the Public/Private Sector Dialogue was filled. Since then, admittedly without much noise and fanfare, tremendous diligence has been directed to the strengthening of the dialogue process and the pursuit of key reform areas. The five minutes given to me for these remarks do not allow for me to elaborate at this time. But I will say that the entire process has done much to improve the trust and deepen the collaboration between government ministry, departments and agencies with the various industries and sectors.”

 

Kay Menzies

Kay Menzies, President, Chamber of Commerce

“Welcome to the kickoff session of the Caribbean Growth Forum Belize Chapter. As we know all too well, Belize faces many challenges such that in total they seem even insurmountable. Our debt levels even after the restructuring are higher than we can afford at the current rate of growth; especially considering he need to invest in infrastructural development, in development of an enabling environment for business and in improvement of our people’s quality of life. Our literacy rate has fallen over time while our poverty rates have risen. And these two facts add significantly to challenges of development. One answer to all of this is to encourage investment—whether local or foreign—and to foster business growth—whether large or small. How are we doing this? Not very well apparently. The World Bank ease of doing business report has taken us from a ranking of ninety-second out of one [hundred and] eighty-three countries in 2011 to a ranking of one hundred and fifth out of one eighty-five countries in 2013. We need to reverse that, but how and where do we begin? The fact is, if we are to pull Belize ahead, if we are to build the necessary forward momentum going from baby steps to giant strides of growth, we have to do three things. We have to acknowledge that we have barriers to growth and agree on what they are; we have to analyze them carefully to determine how to overcome them and we have to work together as private and public sector, as service productive and distributive sectors to overcome them for the sake of overall economic development.”

 

The Caribbean Growth Forum is an initiative supported by the IDB, World Bank, and the Caribbean Development Bank, in collaboration with the UK Agency for International Development, and the Canadian International Development Agency.

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