REPORT #350 July 2000

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

Around the world, escalating oil prices are playing havoc with many different countries. In the USA it already costs about 35% more to fill your tank than a year ago. The Belize government say they have been absorbing the oil price increases because forecasts were that the prices would reverse. But since they haven't, they now have to hit the Belizean customer with rising prices. The people on the street in Belize are just getting a taste of what USA citizens have been experiencing for about 4 months.

At the last Cabinet Meeting, the government said they are going to raise fuel prices, they have no choice. The government cannot continue to subsidize with lost tax revenue the price of fuel. As a temporary measure the government had increased the allowance of duty free fuel. It is nice to note that at least some parts of the Government of Belize are working reasonably well. The government has asked the Sugar Cane Board and the Cane Farmers Association to seek other ways of making the sugar industry more competitive. They also suggest the groups better find more efficient means of transportation if fuel prices continue to rise.

Suggested were the conversion to butane and diesel in trucks. Not mentioned, but a good idea would be somebody breeding mules too. Some mule pulled wagons like the old days would be certainly more efficient and with all the waiting in truck lines to deliver, probably way more practical.

The jokes aside, oil is a serious business, so is any economy based on oil and it's derivatives. The oil production world wide is supposed to peak between 2008 and 2012. From then on demand will be more than the supply. Prices will rise! Economies based on oil are going to have some major shifts and adjustments. Already the industrialized nations are fighting each other in covert battles to secure oil producing countries supplies. In Colombia, the U.K., has the oil supplies locked up and France, Germany and the USA are jockying between them financing surrogate armies to see if they can change the situation. In Ecuador, recent Court evidence shows that almost a year ahead, the IMF and the President of Ecuador had decided to default on the Brady Bonds and go to a dollar currency. The bankers got wind of it, and since their bank revenue and asset investments is in local currency through mortgage loans and such, they were going to be wiped out. Instead, they cashed in whatever cash reserves they had and skipped the country. It's hard to keep secrets in small countries. But despite wiping out millions of peoples savings and thousands upon thousands of businesses through the Brady Bond default exercise program, the USA pretty much has the Ecuadorian oil locked up. In Peru, the Japanese are taking over the economy at the invitation of Fuijimoro. They don't have oil, but are expected to find some. Guatemala our neighbor has some oil.

Within the lifetime of Said Musa, Dickie Bradley, Clinton Forman, Margaret Ventura and Marissa Quan, the world and particularly Belize is going to change drastically in how transportation, electricity and other energy sensitive operations in Belize are going to be done. This oil price hike should be a forewarning. You have somewhere between 12 and 25 years to find alternatives. It may hit a whole lot sooner than that. This price rise will probably be followed by at least one more lower price of oil stabilization, but it will most likely be the last one. The end of life and the world as it currently runs! For the next hundred years things are going to change, wars will be fought over oil supplies and a host of different ways of doing things.

Belize needs an alternative energy program. Not a policy, but an investment program. People who know how to manufacture windmills out of alternators from junk cars, and electric motors out of junk washing machines and refrigerators need to be encouraged to experiment small scale, so the technical problems and skills become common knowledge. Butane for the next 20 years for vehicles and generators in the northern half of Belize will be a temporary stop gap technology. Gasohol, some sort of working pilot plant should be constructed and got working. In the north also. It is not price efficient now, but it needs to be done anyway on a small scale. Just to learn the problems and grasp the technology in a practical way for the next two generations. ( a generation is 15 years apart ) The much ballyhooed biogass production of electricity is another one. At least encourage someone to build and sell electricity from a small plant, even if it has to be subsidized. ( 12 to 150 kw ) We need the experience and knowledge. Hydro dams, the Mennonites already have these smaller dam building skills. All the rivers of Belize require water collection data. If it hasn't been started yet, do it now! Already solar panels are 300% more efficient than the best the government of Belize is currently operating at about 15% more in price. Keep up with this technology, it will probably be a big asset. Most alternative energy programs in the electrical field require a rectifier or storage device called a battery bank. I don't know if it is still true, but local made batteries were never as good as those in the USA. Why, I don't know! Find out and encourage some battery building competitions within certain parameters and cash prizes. We are going to need better batteries of longer life. All of these things can be fostered cheaply. Some discreet very small GRANTS for local pilot projects. Competitions and cash awards! Subsidizing some small scale substitution technologies. It will be good money invested. After the next round of price lowering, expect oil prices from then on, and all energy prices to start rising forever.

The one other thing that is important, is to learn to be self reliant. To do it ourselves. Quit borrowing money from abroad. Become financially self sufficient. Become energy self sufficient. Gradually quit importing oil over the next 8 years. Let prices rise, but foster homemade production operations in electricity and fuel to get a head start for the coming world oil debacle, wars and struggles. We need an alternative energy program. Not a policy, but a long range program of investment in alternative energy experiments and technologies. Something we can make and produce ourselves. Only so can Belize be strong and independent!

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