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Prime Minister of Belize Presents a Rosy Economic Report

Posted by Valeria Espinoza on Sep 28, 2011 10:33:27 AM
Valeria Espinoza

On September 21st, Belize’s 30th year of independence, Prime Minister Dean Barrow addressed the nation.  The good news he presented for the country also bodes well for expats living and investing in Belize.  He proudly reviewed Belize’s upbeat economic indicators report for 2011.  Then he outlined the aggressive infrastructure improvement program already underway. This program does more than  improve Belize’s infrastructure. It’s creating jobs for many Belizeans who would otherwise be unemployed.

Emblem of Belize

The Prime Minister’s address is available on the Belize government’s public website. Since it’s rather long, I’ve quoted the relevant economic parts of his speech in this post. The quoted sections below  address the solid jump in the GDP, the basis for the country’s zero % inflation rate, and the numerous infrastructure projects now underway. For expats and investors, these projects demonstrate that the government of Belize is committed to upgrading their amenities to better attract the  tourist market and Baby Boomer retirees.

If you would like to read the entire speech, click here… You can also compare these statistics to the ones presented in an earlier post by clicking here…

Here are the excerpts from Prime Minister Barrow’s speech that address economic issues:

"Well, when we look at the numbers we can certainly take satisfaction in the fact that for the first quarter of this year our GDP growth exceeded 6%. It is around a decade since we last saw that figure and local analysts declare that, in current world circumstances, it is an extraordinary statistic.

Prime Minister Barrow and his Wife - Ambergris Today

Now it is already clear that the second quarter, for which the official figures are not yet in, was more subdued. But we are still on track for year-on-year growth of not less than 3%. And even those costive Scrooges at the International Monetary Fund have been obliged to concede that "Belize is weathering the financial crisis relatively well, when compared with CARICOM peers".

There is a mix of factors responsible for our economic growth, and high export earnings from our production of crude oil is one. But, what is far more sustainable, our job-creating tourism star is firmly in the ascendant. Thus, there was a 6.7% increase in second quarter overnight visitors to Belize, anchored by a 16% jump in the month of April. And for the first half of this year, hotel revenues rose by 17.8%.

Now the legitimate query in the face of impressive growth numbers is always “how does higher output benefit the regular citizen and improve the quality of Life”? It is in that context that we were pleased to have both the Fund and the Central Bank of Belize confirm that inflation was nil in 2010. In other words, there was no cost of living increase over the last calendar year. And this was as a direct result of Government's cancellation of both import duty and GST on a wide range of food items.

But however much we have been able to rein in the price of basic goods; our citizens still need money with which to buy. They therefore need the jobs to provide them with purchasing power. Now the United States is the world's largest economy. But even in America joblessness is stubbornly high, and their underemployment rate is about the same as Belize's unemployment rate. Accordingly, President Obama has decided to focus great effort now on infrastructure development as a driver of jobs.

Prime Minister Barrow and President Obama

Well, you will forgive me for underlining the fact that in this regard Belize is ahead of the curve. Ever since the onset of the global recession we have declared our concentration on infrastructure spending to be the centerpiece of our public sector investment programme. Most of our engagement with the multilateral development agencies has  therefore been by way of infrastructure projects, and our agenda in that regard is now well advanced. Thus, the improvement of the Northern road network to paving standards proceeds apace with the recent award of the contract for the resurfacing that is taking place between Orange Walk Town and Progresso. And the second phase of the project going in the other direction to Blue Creek, and between the villages of San Lazaro and August PineRidge, is to start shortly.

In the South the work on the Punta Gorda to Jalacte road is well in hand. And in the West the contract is  out to tender now for 10 million dollars worth of approach roads that will be built. This is in connection with the new Macal River crossing to replace the Hawkesworth Bridge.  And it is only the first component in what is, altogether, a 50 million dollar project.

Prime Minister Barrown and Wife Kim at Independence Day 2011

The work has begun in Belize City on the last phase of the Marion Jones stadium, and our friend President Calderón and the Mexican Government have confirmed that it is 15 million dollars that will be spent on their gift to us, the reconstruction of the Belize City Center.

The 10 million dollar IDB loan for drainage works and street repairs on the Northside of Belize City has already been signed, and the actual commencement will be by year's end.

Ground has been broken in San Ignacio for the new welcome center under Government's IDB-funded Sustainable Tourism Project. And all District Towns are readying for the November start of the Municipal Infrastructure Project.

Capital City Belmopan will receive a double dose of bounty, as EU funding for a new market is in addition to the World Bank money for streets and drains.

Ladies and Gentlemen: this is a panorama of projects that are all labour intensive, and that have brought and will bring jobs to all the compass points of our country.

I also want to announce that by way of a European Union grant and the provision of counterpart funds by the Government of Belize, BEL (Belize’s public power company) will begin to provide electrification to 44 rural and peri-urban communities countrywide. "


Topics: Living In Belize

Valeria Espinoza

Written by Valeria Espinoza