TOWN MEETING way out on Ambergis Caye by the Great Barrier Reef.
San Pedro, the tourist town and retirement community on Ambergris Caye, just inside the Great Barrier Reef held one of it's annual quarterly public meetings. Turnout was poor with only 25 in attendance. The annual budget was announced at $1,583,893 and that about † of this amount had been collected by this past May, 2000. The subject of the 500 acres property held by the Town Board and planned for housing development came under discussion. It is apparently a WETLANDS and government officials from different departments that had to see the area, were reputedly forced to navigate the area in kayaks, as it was underwater. Overheard was the general opinion that the wetlands were essential for the fishing and eco-tourism industry and should not qualify for a subdivision. At some earlier point in time, the land had been planned to be a protected area under conservation laws anyway by a previous Town Council. Belize being Belize and using what they called a dictatorial method of decree style government in an authoritarian manner, in which a Cabinet Minister can use his powers of "Discretion" and violate all the laws on the legislative books if he so chooses. It was pointed out that probably most departments, like the agriculture, environment, and so forth would recommend against the area being filled for housing development. Under the decree system though, the Town Board if it was really adamant about filling and building on scarce valuable wetlands could violate the intent of the laws of Belize by appealing for a political decision. The Minister in order to garner votes, would then issue a permit to fill in the valuable wetlands and build houses thereon. In this case, it is believed that San Pedro has more conscientious citizens who are on the Town Council in favor of retaining benefits of wetlands than that of big pocket real estate developers. The time may come when that wetlands will become the source of bribes to get used for real estate development, but I don't believe that time is now. There are too many smart people in the San Pedro Community and Town Council.
It was amusing to read about the Principal of the Belize Technical College, Isabel Tun, referring to the Belize Telecommunications Authority, Maestre Industries and others who came too late looking for graduates to fill positions in their businesses. She proudly announced that there were none (graduates available that is). The industries that started interviewing graduates around graduation time were slow starters at the gate. All the graduates either have jobs, or are going on to higher studies. Education has turned around in Belize over the last three to five years and there is more emphasis on teaching subjects for local employment and entrepreneurial businesses. The shortage of qualified people is obvious. All the graduates are gone people! Make a note, next year you private firms, you better start interviewing likely students six months before graduation. Demand for skilled labor is more than the supply. Get your offers in early and sweaten the deal if you want them. Stock options, perks, paid parking, extra leave and holidays, what have you got?
It would be a real feather in the cap of the PUP political party, if they could use some of our PM Musa's rhetoric, charisma and soft soap, to turn the Taiwanese Loan into a GRANT. Now there would be a political coup to brag about! It would also rescue our floundering Minister of Finance, Ralph Fonseca from the quicksand he is struggling in. Be worth a half million to organize a campaign and team to alleviate poor old Belize's debt.
Be interesting to see the census statistics. Recent articles indicate that Big Falls in the middle of the Toledo District now has 3000 people. There is talk of building a high school there. This is town size in Belize calculations. Wonder when it will start getting treated like a town?