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Oct 15, 2001

Musa outlines tough facts of life to nation

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“Things have changed and we too must change.” That was the message of Prime Minister Said Musa as he informed the nation that the triple whammy of the September eleventh terror attack, the U.S. military response and Hurricane Iris will leave Belize’s economy somewhere between a rock and a very hard place. Speaking at a press conference this afternoon, Musa, flanked by a large contingent of area representatives and other officials, summed up the precarious global economic situation and what will be a long hard struggle for Belize.

Prime Minister Said Musa

“The World Bank in a preliminary assessment of the impact of events on developing countries reminded us that these occurred at a particularly vulnerable moment for the global economy, when the three major world economies, the United States, Japan and Europe had already entered the first simultaneous slow down since 1990.

The Bank predicts four implications for developing countries. First, significantly reduced growth, reflecting the slow down in the high-income countries, and an increase in risk perceptions. Second, as a result in lower growth in income, poverty in developing countries in 2002 will be higher by some ten million people, than would otherwise have been the case. Third, poverty could be increased because following slower global growth; commodity prices may fall further.

In Latin America, adverse trade effects are anticipated to dominate in the group comprised of Mexico, Latin America and the Caribbean region, exacerbated by deteriorating terms of trade in Central America and by devastating loss of tourism revenues in the Caribbean. Fourth, policy responses have to be swift and bold because of the heightened level of risk to the global economy and they have to be vigilant because the uncertainties associated with future political and military events are unusually large. The World Bank also acknowledges that most countries are too small to counteract imported shocks and many face constraints of high debt levels and limiting financial capabilities.

The Caribbean Council for Europe’s, David Jessop, a long time and respected observer for the Caribbean economies has said that the effect of the recent events, has been to jeopardise the future of already fragile economies, and to cause new and unexpected instabilities. The outlook for the key Caribbean industry of tourism, which employs one in four Caribbean citizens, is bleak.

We in Belize have been doubly affected, not only by the world events, but also be the very concrete and devastating effects of Hurricane Iris. Here again, we might not all be aware of the full extent of the damage caused by this devastating hurricane, not only to the south, but to the entire country.”

The latest reports from the National Emergency Management Organisation indicate that housing is the most urgent matter to be tackled. According to NEMO, approximately three thousand, one hundred and seventy-eight houses were destroyed, leaving close to thirteen thousand Belizeans homeless in the Stann Creek and Toledo districts. The government has already initiated a housing project in the south to replace the destroyed homes. Under the scheme, the houses will cost twelve thousand dollars each and include a “core” room constructed of concrete blocks, where residents can seek shelter during future storms. The Bahamian government has already pledged to donate funds to build fifty of these houses.

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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