REPORT #487 May 2002

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

Prime Minister, Musa goes on about the impoverished. As Val Shal our Mayan Indian from the remote foothills of the south points out, the people in the remote Toledo District have less, but feel wealthier than their richer poor poverty class cousins in Belize City, the political power plantation center.

Industrialized countries have more or less, accepted a fixed percentage of poverty and unemployment for numerous obvious reasons. There is not much you can do with a physical living blob with no arms and legs due to birth defects, or severe retardation for example.

Unemployment statistics for both the USA and Canada are mostly as my memory serves me, set at an acceptable level of 7%. If the unemployment rate of these two countries goes below that, then that signals an overheated economy, rising inventories and overproduction that will eventually self correct with a down turn. Unemployment rates going above that number indicate a correcting economy and possibly some sort of wrongful effects from political policy decisions.

But what should the unemployment baseline acceptable figure be in Belize? I'm personally not even sure that there should be such a figure. We are not an industrialized country and 92% of salaried jobs are government jobs. How meaningful can a statistic that relates to the number of government employees be? On the other hand, most people have family businesses, part or full time. Labor fluctuates within the family and they do not earn salaries, but take money to live from any earnings, which are not always profit. Sometimes those monies come from capital that should be reinvested in stock. If one calculated in depreciation, ALL family businesses in the country of Belize would be considered bankrupt. Yet ignoring depreciation, they continue to feed families seasonally and send children to school. Most often they do not pay social security, or exist in data banks. Probably a figure on numbers of business licenses would be more accurate than an unemployment figure in trying to calculate things in third world small countries like Belize, which are primarily agricultural based.

When the government adopts and uses statistical methods from industrialized countries, this should be kept in mind. As townie academics, the bureaucrats often have neither the experience or brains to figure simple things like this out, and simply adopt foreign temperate zone methodologies of statistical reporting that do not present any real picture of the country of tropical Belize.

Of course, with a government that still is using 18th century methods of accounting in the financial department, as evidenced by the lack of ability to make annual and monthly reports expressed in recent newspaper articles in Belize City, the idea that any meaningful statistics are coming out of our government is somewhat ludicrous. The very worst run government ministry in Belize is the Finance Ministry. Why the Minister hasn't lost his job is solely due to the corruptive exploitive aspect of parliamentary British style, party politics.

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