REPORT #628 March 2003

( anonymous in fear of political retribution )

Since I wrote that article, I've become a lot more realistic about projects in Belize. I now understand...

1. Contracts will be awarded, not on the basis of merit, but on the basis of connections, family relations, and (possibly) bribes and kickbacks.

2. There will be no visible plan for the project. There may be a plan, but it will be secret if it exists at all.

3. There will be no visible budget for the project. Again, there may be a budget proposed, but it will never be published, nor will it be available to the public.

4. There will never be an accounting of the project plan or the budget, at least not a visible one.

5. There will never be an audit. After all, if nobody audits the government, why should they audit a project?

6. A significant portion of the funds for the project will be siphoned off for personal use by project managers, supervisors and others.

7. The guilty parties will never be apprehended or punished.

This is true of virtually all projects here in Belize. It is also true for a lot of projects in the US and probably anyplace else in the world. However, the worst thing about the Chalillo project is that it is really big, and it has really big opportunities for all of these malfeasances. The fact that the GOB people and anyone else who stands to profit financially from the project gets extremely defensive, just as you did, is proof of the pudding.

Just to cap the whole thing off, much of the work apparently will be given to a Chinese company and a lot of that money will leave the country.

The idea that this, or any of the other substantive issues in this election, has been thoroughly discussed is patently ridiculous. The people didn't endorse the PUP because of the stand they took on anything. The manifesto, glitzy and well presented, presents "God, Mother and Apple Pie" [GMAP] as we would say in the US. It ignores most of the substantive issues that should have been discussed. It allows the people to vote overwhelmingly to maintain the status quo - which is always comfortable, but, in light of the terrific problems we should be coming to grips with, (traffic, health care, monster debt, no accountability) unsettling - no, dammit, ALARMING.

The idea that you (or anyone else) would try to stifle our complaints with a pat "The people have spoken" is appalling. Do you really want the best for Belize? Or are you simply in a position where you, like a lot of people currently in power, can get what is best for you and the country be damned?

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