Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Women Breaking up the UDP

You know, one would have thought that the UDP male ministers would be fighting amongst themselves for the scraps that the PUP left. And one would have thought that this would have been the undoing of the UDP, the dividing force within the party.

Well, there are fights, but those are but a side show to the the dividing force that is coming from the women. Women, traditionally are supposed to be the nurturers, the healers. No, not this bunch. They are taking the bull by the horns and leading it straight to hell.

Zenaida is doing her best to sink the party. Whether it is running her mouth or running rubber checks to Waste Control, she is at the helm of the UDPs biggest ship, otherwise known as the S.S. CITCO Titantic. The iceberg was hit and it is taking on water fast. All that is left is for all hands to abandon ship and for its occupants to jump into a sea of garbage.

Now, Diane comes along. She is at the helm of one of the UDP's biggest cash cows, the S.S NICH. She can't seem to keep the rats off the ship. The ship is flooded with them. From Board members who have no idea what the letters NICH stand for, to bounce check, owe everybody in Belize, charlatans like David Gegg. 

Dual handedly, these two women have done more to damage the UDP than any opposition. In fact if I were the PUP, I would campaign FOR the UDP City Council and give Z. another term to finish destroying the party.

Dean O. better get his ships righted, because as they go down, so will the fate of a second term for his party.

Man the life rafts, we are in for a close one!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Memo to the Government: Increase our Gas Prices.

The title of this entry surely sounds counterintuitive. The world is in its biggest economic crisis since the Depression; the Belizean tourist market, our most lucrative industry, is faltering; and the cost of food (and living in general) has increased dramatically. Yet, the lone proverbial gem among this economic despair has been the significant decrease in the cost of fuel - a boon to drivers across the globe, especially in Belize where prices have fallen almost 70%. However, this latest development in the ephemeral saga of oil prices warrants careful discussion about how the government should proceed with its tax policy on fuel.

The price of fuel has hovered between $9 and $11 for the past several years. And despite such steep prices, few Belizeans truly changed their driving habits. Teenagers still proceeded with their obligatory "circles" around the city (with the windows up and the A/C at full blast). Moreover, with a bus system in utter disarray, many adults had no choice but to pay the exorbitant price of fuel to get from home, to work, to the store, to school etc. Belizeans simply kow-towed to our insignificant place on the world stage, and understandably so; a population of 300,000 will never affect the price of any commodity, let alone fuel. We have no choice but to take the price given when the tanker enters our waters.

But amidst the ecstasy of $4.85/per gallon fuel, there are other issues to consider aside from prices. For example, drive anywhere in Belize City, or even in many out-district areas, and our vehicles suffer immense wear and tear from the honeycomb of potholes that dot our streets. The infrastructure of our country has been battered by floods, hurricanes, and the ever-increasing amount of cars on the road. To fix these roads cost money - money that our government does not have. Therefore, it behooves the government to take advantage of the present reduction in fuel prices to collect a higher tax. Of the current $4.85 we pay at the pump, the government collects $1.70, or 35%. If the government decided to collect $2.00 (40% of the price), the price of fuel would then be $5.15, still a dramatic decrease from the status quo of the past several years. The money obtained from these taxes should be used to support infrastructural development, particularly our dilapidated streets. Simple math sheds light on the benefits of this plan: assume there are 10,000 cars in Belize City and that each car on average goes to the pump every 10 days. And at each visit to the pump they put in, on average, 14 gallons of fuel. With a gas tax of $2.00, the government would collect $280,000 every 10 days. Finally, assuming that it takes one million dollars to pave a mile as it is commonly said to cost, it would take the government 40 days to collect the funds needed to pave one mile of road.

I have mentioned this proposal to several people and many have remarked that it is not politically feasible because people would not allow the government to stand in the way of the lowest possible price, especially when the motto of 'tings haad out ya' dominates the social milieu. Yet, this is a promising opportunity to put politics aside in place of reason. When gas prices eventually rise, the government can simply reduce the gas tax. Prices will not stay this low forever and hence, requires swift action to take advantage of its potential benefits for the infrastructural development that our country so desperately needs. Thoughts?