The rising foreign debt, the averages on annual government revenues and other costs and expenses, outline the same story this election, as it has every election year in the decades past.
Belize since self government years, has never ever been out of debt and self supporting.
The two major political parties dominated by the port town electorate have always found their solutions to insufficient money with which to govern, by borrowing. Perpetual debt has been the case for governments of Belize since independence. There has never been anyone in Belize the nation, dominated by the port town electorate to rescue the country from this disaster. Though the port town electorate which seems to be mostly royalists favoring the monarchy in the UK, continue to this day; to search for a hero to lead them out of disaster with some sort of miraculous innovative solution. Hero's are in short supply in Belize. Especially political leader type heros. There are none!
The solution I feel is self reliance. Consensual and participatory democracy promises A meeting of minds around the whole six districts of the nation to find brand new solutions. To give an example, here here some FACTS and Statistics from the current Prime Minister and his controlling party, the PUP.
The average annual income of government has been running for the past five years in the neighborhood of $372 million. There is no hard figure for the past year yet, though the number $412 million has been bandied about. Probably then, the average annual income continues in a very slow upward trend. We can expect about $380 million for 2003 as an average government revenue and should there be no disasters. The PUP traditionally has always inflated and overestimated income and revenue forecasts, so the average of the last five years is probably more accurate than anything the party in power can forecast as an estimate.
If the Government of Belize can expect to take in $380 million, then what are our expenses?
Well again, the PUP in the January budget speech of 2003, say that there is a fixed expense just for the salaries of everyone working for government. This amount needs $200 million to cover the salaries and existing pensions. Leaving $180 million left for governing. The problem with that is that we need; about $250 million to pay on existing debts. The debts are according to the PUP calculations $1,050,000 Bz for the foreign debts. If you include the local internal debts to run government, the amount is somewhere around $2,100,000.
To make things more clear, with an expected real average income for this year 2003, of $380 million, the PUP say mind you, that the total expenses of government for 2003 will be $417.1 million. In other words, our eyes are bigger than our belly can hold.
Under the PUP, the government is short $37 million to cover costs of operating the current government. The story doesn't stop there, because the PUP government also claim a minimum set of payments that they have been spending on debt repayments. That amount is much less than what outsiders calculate is necessary and required to really reduce the debt and interest payments. In other words, the expenses are much higher than what are projected. So the picture is much worse also.
The debate over what to do, is probably the biggest issue for the coming election in March of 2003. The PUP governing party slogan is that to govern they must borrow! In the debate are the old guard, traditional port town manipulative power hungry, electorate politicians who believe they can borrow there way to success. The two major parties are of this belief. Enter in this election a loose Federation of Independent candidates under the banner of the WTP non-party party, to get around Musa's self serving "no crossing the aisle law", who offer something different. A party that is not a party with the freedom to vote conscience or in the interests of their constituents. They offer HOPE for a change in the way Belize does business. Corrections to the constitution, perhaps legislated limits on borrowing, or a counterbalance to the tyranny of population representation from the port of Belize City with a Geographic elected Senate check and balance,representing the rest of the country. These independents are long on ideas, open to some suggestions and with independents there will at least be more of a public debate on the future of Belize and how it is organized and run. Policy will cease to be the secret rule of cynical lawyers and cronies of our political oligarchy for personal advantage.
One thing is clear. That is the borrow and spend philosophy of both the PUP and the UDP major two parties over forty years has proven itself bankrupt. There are no new solutions from either of these two parties. Perhaps with independents we will get a consensus and participatory government Belize needs to lift the nation out of mediocricity and perpetual debt.
At any rate, with HOPE comes a new beginning. Perhaps a new way of governing costing less, more in line with government revenues. Perhaps some solution to resolving the debt burden such as a National Bankruptcy Act offering predatory creditors twenty cents on the dollar, or nothing? The most important probably being a different restructuring of how we are governed and administrated to lessen the cost more in line with our revenues.
One thing for sure, our expenses are far bigger than our income and somebody soon, better wake up and put our accounts and managing system in order.