If we look at the world as if for the very first time through the eyes of an economist, we will be able to fully understand and appreciate the steps that each and every country must take in order to become fully grown. There are five main stages of development these stages, though inevitable according to Karl Marx indirectly generate many problems that may render a country economically unstable. Nevertheless, despite the difficulties that our country (Belize) may face, it is important that we face up to our problems and carry on.
In order for us to understand the stages of a developing country, we must first learn what economic growth is. It is the steady process of increasing productive capacity of the economy and hence increasing National Income. There are five stages in which a society evolves: the traditional society where output per head is low and agricultural work is prominent; the Prerequisite stage to take off in which the traditional system is over come and the foundation is set for science and technology; the Take off stage where all resistance to change are over come; the Drive to maturity in which new industries are developed and net exports become positive; and finally the Mature stage in which there is a high consumption and production rate present. All countries, in the world, including Belize is at some point in this entire process; however, in time with good leadership and hard work, we will eventually proceed up the economic ladder. AS for the persistent problems that we face at every turn we make, we must take them one at a time and explore their solutions.
A major concern of economists today is whether or not we are able to take advantage of our trade capabilities. The determinants of trade is a very convincing factor that serves to threaten economic growth as it is only when a country is able to increase its exports and decrease its imports simultaneously that it will be able to see its way. Thus threats of devaluation, and failures to sustain quotas are detrimental to a developing country. Belize in particular is in a similar situation as it too imports more than it exports; however, it is this decrepit appearance that has allowed us to request donations and loans from abroad.
A second problem that may hinder economic growth is the rapid expansion of a population, which is usually accompanied by a high unemployment rate. Should a population increase too quickly, it may cause many long-term social, economic, and political problems. One might not realize it but the unemployment rate actually dictates the growth rate of an economy, as the labor force is the most important factor of production. The change from unemployment to full employment nonetheless includes an increase in the labor force, steps towards technological improvements and the maintenance of an efficient managerial structure. In the past, high unemployment rates have propagated such incidents as the Great Depression of the 1930 s and had continued to sustain a perpetual inflation that had continued throughout the 1950 s. In Belize we lucky to be placed in a situation whereby our large land area is matched with a very small population. It is for this reason that we must make use of what we have land. This means that we should try to enhance our tourism industry as best as possible and in an attempt to do this we must perpetuate the natural beauty of the land. The trouble here evinces whenever the Belizean Government decides to pursue to many policies at one time as in the case of promoting the creation of industries which indirectly serve to destroy large areas of tourist attractions.
Another destructive factor, though spontaneous, is the occurrence of natural calamities that are capable of setting an economy of a country back as much as 10 years as in the incidents involving both hurricane Haiti and Keith events in which large areas of fertile land were destroyed. These calamites are considered as being very destructive as they affect all the factors of production land, labor, and capital. In Belize, we have recently suffered from the wrath of hurricane Mitch and are still feeling its long-term effects on our agriculture and tourism industries. As a result of the hurricane, our beautiful island of San Pedro has been devastated and we have witnessed an intense waning away of visitors. As for our agriculture industry, many of the plantations have been flooded and there is no telling as to when these plots of land will be ready for replanting.
The rising cost of energy in the world is also another problem facing most countries throughout the years. In Belize for example, the price of gas has doubled in less than a decade and the government being as ill considerate as possible has not yet decided or even considered the issue of decreasing the 100 percent duty tax paid on imported oils.
Our heavy reliance on the tourism industry has also been placing our country at high risks as the perpetual vissicitude of our West Indain climate is unpredictable ; thus our tourism industry is liable to be destroyed at some point of time. What is even more destructive to our society is the fact that our population is very small approximately 250,000 - and within this mall population is the pervasiveness of brain drain activities. It is the high opportunity cost of foregoing a job in the United States that has persuaded many of our Belizean students to remain in the U.S after completing their studies. Nevertheless, I do not blame these individuals as our society is concentrated entirely on the elite population and individuals below them are left without a job and an opportunity to access loans and start a new business simply because of their economic and political situations.
Nevertheless, despite the presence of these factors, the 1st World Countries have created certain organizations and banks in an attempt to facilitate the easy transition for developing countries such as Belize. Their efforts in bridging the gap between those with the haves and those with the haves not can bee seen in the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in 1979, the Gatt Agreement, Caricom, World Bank, and the United Nations. For Belize to develop economically, we must ensure that the policies we propagate are in an attempt to relinquish poverty, increase our population and to facilitate our entrance in the world of technology. Thus our pursuit towards economic growth is in our reach. This is to say that we must acknowledge the fact that there are problems to be dealt with in the world today, and that there will always be problems; however, we must deal with them as best as possible.