By Jamil Matar
Before I delve into my routine political patter, let me share a personal observation concerning the current situation in our country today. During the strict quarantine period between March and April of this year, Belizeans were treated to all sorts of promises, deals, and discounts from local businesses and producers. Shortly after the restrictions were eased, however, we noted a tangible upward trend in prices for goods and services. Then the murmuring began to circulate regarding salary reductions and layoffs. One would ascribe such economic activity to supply and demand in our hybrid economic system of capitalism. Others have opined that with the borders closed and no foreign shopping sprees or partying, our local producers were now enjoying a hefty return on investment. This is where greed has crept into our system. Since we now must patronize local producers, some businesses have decided to recover the losses they suffered during the curfew period. Suddenly, the prices of local merchandize soared and bill collectors are knocking hard on doors! The cost per unit of tomatoes, potatoes, lettuce, cabbage, carrots, cilantro, peppers and even chicken has hit the ceiling. It is not as if we were ignorant about what would happen as a result of the pandemic; in April, the World Bank estimated that Covid-19 would drive 49 million people worldwide from being poor into extreme poverty. It is starting here already, the poor will get poorer, and the greedy will choke. Best I shift gears now to safer terrain.
On Monday past, perhaps after reading my opinion last week about double elections, a political activist came to see me wanting to wager that the General Election would be held in October, instead of later in the year, or next year. As I mentioned in a previous discourse, I have decided to rather buy Fantasy 5 than try to predict anything in politics. Too many variables in politics, I say, with money being the most important integer. Remember now, these people have two banks.
Anyway, the topic with my visitor invariably turned to which party will come up with the necessary minimum 16 parliamentary seats to form the new Government. The UDP activist started listing all the seats, one by one, and his predicted outcome. No need to say, for him the UDP won handily, even after awarding the People’s United Party six of the eight seats in the north. I told him it would not be as easy as ticking off a box to win a General Election these days; it will take grit, grid and hard cash to win.
In signing off, frequent readers will recall the joke I once said about my former BSI colleague, the late Gabriel Pate, who in 2006 or so, told me “ I gone clear” when he claimed to have seen my name as the seller of a certain prime property for millions. I recently saw a copy of this famous land transaction on FB. I told you at that time that Pate had read the name Majil on the political billboard and, probably being slightly dyslexic, confused it with my first name, Jamil. At the time, Pate thought I had hit the jackpot with that sale! I wish.
By Jamil Matar