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|San Pedro Daily||Tuesday,
January 17, 2012
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Tale of two small countries
Obvious reason for vast economic disparity between Cayman and Belize
Cayman is rich, and Belize is poor. Why? Both are small Caribbean countries with the same climate and roughly the same mixed racial heritage, and both were English-speaking British colonies. Belize (the former British Honduras) received its independence in 1981, while Cayman is still not fully independent but is self-governing at the local level, with its own currency, laws and regulations.
Belize should be richer: It has a larger population than Cayman (345,000 as contrasted with Cayman’s 54,000). Belize has a much larger and more varied land area with many more natural resources, including gas and oil, and some rich agricultural land that Cayman lacks. Both have nice beaches, but Belize has the second-largest barrier reef in the world after Australia and also has Mayan ruins. Yet Cayman, with fewer points of interests, has done more to attract tourists.
Back in the early 1970s, Cayman was as poor on a per capita basis as is Belize today. Both countries had ambitions to be tourist and financial centers. Cayman succeeded and has about six times the real per capita income of Belize. What did Cayman do right and Belize do wrong?
Perhaps most important is that Cayman had and maintained a competent and honest judicial system, which gave foreign investors confidence that their property would be protected. Cayman also has a very low crime rate. Tourists and other visitors walk around freely day or night in Cayman without fear. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for many parts of Belize, where crime is often a problem. In addition, many judges in Belize are poorly trained, incompetent and, in some cases, corrupt. These issues cause foreign investors to consider higher-risk factors for projects in Belize as contrasted with Cayman.
Belize has a more investor-friendly tax system than the United States, but Cayman has no corporate or individual income taxes on non-citizens and citizens alike - advantage Cayman. The problem for Belize is that it is competing with the likes of Cayman, Bermuda, the Bahamas and the British Virgin Islands, but not the United States. Also, the regulatory environment in Cayman is largely free of corruption, which is not true in Belize.
The latest Index of Economic Freedom ranks Belize as the 77th most economically free country in the world (out of 179). If Cayman were large enough to be ranked, it almost certainly would be in the top 10. There is a very high correlation between economic freedom and per capita income. Any country can decide to become more free. Belize ranks a miserable 93 out of 183 countries ranked by the World Bank’s Doing Business project.
It is obvious why Cayman is rich and Belize is poor, and it comes down to one word: governance. If Belize would clean up its courts, fully protect property rights and adopt the best economic practices of its competitors, it could quickly become rich. For instance, it takes an average of 44 days to get all of the required permits to open a new business. In some countries, such as Estonia, Singapore and even the Commonwealth of Virginia in the U.S., the required paperwork to open a business can be done online. Thus, days have been reduced to just a few hours.
There is no reason any country has to remain poor. Countries are not poor because of climate, lack of natural resources or race. Countries as locationally varied as Singapore, Mauritius, Korea, Chile, Estonia and Cayman have become relatively rich over the past few decades. Those countries that are still relatively poor are poor because they have not put in place the necessary institutions, political structures and policies.
The United States and a number of other wealthy nations are becoming less free and thus, not surprisingly, are growing more slowly.
Belize could become rich and the U.S. and Cayman could become poor. It all depends on whether the political entities elect wise and courageous leaders.
Kim Simplis-Barrow Coping with Chemotherapy
Kim Simplis Barrow, the wife of Prime Minister Dean Barrow, was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer in early November. Since then, she has been back and forth between Belize and Miami to receive chemotherapy.
Dealing with chemotherapy is very tough for anyone to deal with as this treatment kills the cancerous tumor but leaves the host gravely ill. So far Simplis-Barrow has gotten three rounds of Chemotherapy, her hair has fallen off, suffers from constant headaches and often is too ill to leave home.
Mrs. Barrow commented to Belize Media that she has her good and bad days but is staying strong and being positive. “I will leave on Saturday again and will do my Chemo session on Tuesday and I guess after that its downhill from there,” stated Mrs. Barrow to Belize City Media. “You just take it one day at a time really and know that every session that you take is a step closer to being healthy. It's hard but it's a step closer to being healthy and that's the positive. You have to stay positive; you have to stay focused on that. You are looking forward to that day and that's what I am doing; looking forward to that day."
Mrs. Barrow is very grateful for the tremendous support she has received from her husband, family and all the messages and prayers that the people are sending. "All the messages and prayers, all the positive thoughts that come my way have been very inspirational for me,” stated Mrs. Barrow. “People would say that 'you're such an inspiration,' for me you are the inspiration because I draw from that positiveness that you all send me - the messages and all of those good positive thoughts - and it means so much to me."
Despite having to battle out this sickness a brave Mrs. Barrow is doing her best to keep up with her duties as Special Envoy for Women and Children. She was present at the Lions Clinic in Belize City on Thursday, January 12, 2012, along with the Taiwanese Ambassador where they handed over 60 wheelchairs at the Lions Clinic.
The handing out of these wheelchairs was part of a large donation of 250 wheelchairs valued at $40,000 courtesy of the Pusian Foundation in Taiwan. Also receiving wheelchairs were The Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (25 chairs), Stella Morris School (5 Chairs), Care Belize Clients in Corozal and Orange Walk (12 chairs), Benque Residents (8 chairs), and VOICE organization received 10 chairs for the elderly of Belize.
During the handing over of the wheel chairs, Ambassador David Wu stated that his government was pleased to support provision of the wheelchairs and will also be donating $200,000 US dollars towards an “Inspiration Center” that is the brainchild of Mrs. Barrow. The Inspiration Center will provide various therapy and basic healthcare to person with disabilities.
Mrs. Kim Simplis-Barrow left on Saturday, January 14, 2012, for her fourth round of Chemotherapy. At the conclusion of the chemotherapy, Simplis Barrow will have to undergo a mastectomy since two tumors were discovered in her left breast.
San Pedrito Children
Enjoy New Park
Children are the future of tomorrow and what better way to bring up our children than providing them with much love and affection, a proper education and in a safe environment. But children will always be children and they need to have fun in a safe and clean place to play with their friends. The children of the San Pedrito Area are now able to have fun with their friends at the new San Pedrito Park which was officially inaugurated this past Saturday, January 14, 2012.
During the short inauguration ceremony of the San Pedrito Park, Mayor Elsa Paz delivered the welcome addressed. Hon. Manuel Heredia Jr. was the guest speaker of the evening as he was very instrumental in the development of the San Pedrito Park. Both Mayor Paz and Minister Heredia asked for help of the residents of San Pedrito to maintain the park as clean as possible and to take care of it for their enjoyment.
Minister Manuel Heredia, Mayor Elsa Paz and Deputy Mayor Severo Guerrero did the honors of conducting the official ribbon cutting for the inauguration of the park. Mr. Guerrero then gave the vote of thanks and those in attendance, including many children, enjoyed the perks of having a new park in the area. Live music was provided by Rompe Raja and refreshments and snacks were served to all.
A second art sale for charity by the Island Watercolor Group will be at Xanadu Resort on Friday, January 20 from noon to 6PM. Refreshments provided. Original paintings and jewelry by local artists will be for sale.
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