Belize Government and Economy
Because “Governments may make policy changes in response to economic conditions,” say researchers at Investopedia.com, it’s impossible to separate the two; especially when that government is as young as Belize’s.
Belize’s government, based on a British system installed during that nation’s occupation, remains a stable, sound influence on society despite the usual number of scandals that plague any number of nations whose systems are democratic and whose people come from diverse backgrounds.
Despite a relatively small population of around 400,000 people, having the U.S. dollar back up Belize currency at a rate of $1USD to $2BZD remains a stabilizing force. Government backing of all things related to the country’s strong commercial drivers—-tourism, agriculture, and aquaculture-—have helped the nation survive and flourish.
The Belize Government
Further to the subject of Belize’s earliest democratic roots, the nation adopted a parliamentary government based on a constitution that is led by a duly elected prime minister. Like the UK, Belize’s legal code is founded in common law and includes universal suffrage which is not compulsory but is granted to citizens over the age of 18. But self-government proved to be a lengthy journey: The process starting in 1964 was not fully in place until the nation became independent on September 21, 1981.
Two major political parties vie for power: The United Democratic Party and People’s United Party (UDP and PUP). The UDP has been wielding more influence of late. Speculation that corruption scandals impacting the PUP have brought about this change in balance within the National Assembly that is made up of a house of representatives (members are elected) and a senate that is made up of appointees. While the current queen is the titular head of state, Prime Minister Dean Barrow is considered the nation’s ultimate authority.
The Belize Economy
Ties that connect the British Isles to Belize are not only the replication of the former’s governmental system. The economy of the country formerly known as British Honduras is also tied to the mahogany and other hardwood trees coveted by the English for export over decades of occupation.
Recently, however, tourism and aquaculture have become leading economy drivers. While essential goods like petroleum are imported, Belize’s fisheries, agricultural businesses, shrimp farming and exports of bananas, sugar, fruit and lobster continue to drive the nation’s economy. Government is working assiduously to attract manufacturing enterprises by offering incentives to start-ups. Government priorities include lowering both high energy and labor costs so the dollar stretches further for Belizean citizens.
The symbiotic relationship between tourism and government
Because tourism is estimated to provide approximately 1 in 7 Belize jobs and contributes around 22-percent of the nation’s gross national product, a symbiotic relationship between the industry and government is critical. Belize has made major commitments to sustainability and conservation, but increased tourism numbers can also impact ecosystems.
Add the nation’s vulnerability when it comes to changing weather patterns that can impact everything from temperatures to the state of natural tourist attractions being assaulted by any number of threats. In sum, it’s easy to understand why consensus is so critical to future growth. This juggling act is a sensitive topic in a nation that has a poverty-stricken populace to care for amid efforts to attract tourists, retirees, and investors.