Around the world, the notion of civil society is gaining increased acceptance. In order to
create a space for participation from this sector, CARICOM Secretariat is convening
national consultations in each member state.
The Association of National Development Agencies (ANDA), The Society for the
Promotion of Education and Research (SPEAR), and the Government of Belize, held a
national CARICOM/Civil Society Consultation. The forum was held at Biltmore Hotel
on the 5th day of September, 2001.
The national consultations in each member state shared the vision of a broad based
exchange with government, labor, non-governmental organizations, the private sector and
other members of the community who might have innovative ideas on the way forward in
The specific objectives of the conference were:
* To identify strategies for Belizean development that takes into account the needs of
the poor and marginalized groups.
* To establish new approaches to collaboration and consultation between civil society
and government on development issues particularly in pursuit of the Caribbean Single
Market Economy (CSME).
* To strengthen the scope of dialogue and collaboration among the various strands of
Non-State Actors in promoting regional development.
This report summarizes the proceedings of the forum. It gives an essence of the opening
ceremony followed by the group work. The list of participants, and material used during
the day are included in the Appendix.
The forum commenced at 9:30 a.m. with the facilitator Shaun Finnetty giving a brief
introduction to the conference. Father Flowers followed with an invocation that included
prayers for a successful day of negotiations.
The welcome address was given by Executive Director of SPEAR and board member of
ANDA, Mervin Lambey. Mr. Lamby recognized the Caribbean Community for
improving mechanisms for greater people inclusion and participation through the
incorporation of civil society into its decision making process. He continued to
emphasize the important role of civil society and the need to facilitate consultations as a
means of exploring issues impacting the future of Belize, particularly globalization.
CARICOM Assistant Secretary General Dr. Edward Greene presented an overview and
background to the consultation. Within the CARICOM Single Market Economy (CSME)
process of discussions, the Heads of Government mandated the consultations with civil
He continued to explain that civil society needs to examine their role within development
of the region and their country and attempt to establish mechanisms to promote this. Dr.
Green continued to note the vision of development needs to be inclusive in order to make
the Caribbean more viable and competitive, invest in human capital with equity, improve
human resources capabilities, provide for culture preservation and upliftment.
Honorable Dolores Balderamos Garcia from the Ministry of Human Development,
Women and Youth proceeded to discuss the challenges that confront Belize in the 21st
century and realizing that it is truly essential to include all people within the decision
making process. She emphasized the need for increased dialogue between government
and civil society. The key to strengthen the region's capacity at international levels is for
increased collaboration between civil society and the government.
PRESENTATION OF GROUP FACILITATORS
Highlighting the Way Forward
The following session of the consultation was addressed by the group facilitators
provided their opinion highlighting the way forward in Caribbean Development. Mrs.
Lourdes Smith, President of the Belize Business Bureau, emphasized the need for unity
and focused action. Ms. Anita Zetina, Director of Women's Department, Ministry of
Human Development, and Women and Society, gave a breif background of the women's
movement in Belize and accented the base necessity for education and training in a
developing country. Mr. John Pinelo, President of the Belize National Teachers Union,
reiterated earlier statements concerning the need to educate and train human resources.
Shaun then opened the floor for comments. Participants expressed views concerning the
methodology of collectively expressing views, increasing the level of participation, the
need for increased public education and information dissemination and the need to
develop human capacity. Another concern was the need to incorporate elderly persons
within marginalized groups.
Participants were grouped into three groups:
* Group One- Competitiveness and the CSME
* Group Two- Governance and Participation
* Group Three- Cross Cutting of Human Resources
Competitiveness and the CSME
The key elements of a competitiveness strategy for the region should include an equitable
framework in which the playing field is level. This would take in account the need for
equal access to opportunities such as training, education, and labor. Specifically,
focusing on training, there is a need for increased entrepreneur skills.
The region needs to assess the cost of business. In Belize, we have high interest rates and
public utilities cost. High public utilities cost, resulting from monopolies in water,
energy, and communications services, would also have to be addressed.
The next assessment would be to identify niche markets and explore those industries
where there is a comparative advantage. For example, we could look at the
pharmaceuticals or carbon market.
The member states need to increase measures of communication and cooperation in order
to strengthen linkages and relationships. This enables a greater support network when
looking at the region in an international context. This could be initiated by establishing
relevant institutions and utilizing the existing ones. Perhaps this can be illustrated by
identifying a specific person or office in each member country for CARICOM.
When looking exclusively at financial markets and how they can be restructured and
developed as a means of improving enhanced support to the small businesses, the group
again emphasized the need for greater capital formation within the region based on equal
advantage. We need to develop appropriate structures as well as small businesses to help
finance the region. Education would also play a key role here by offering financial
management, sustainability and technical expertise.
A major point that was marked throughout all groups was the need for better governance
that includes transparency and accountability. There has to be an equal access to
business licenses and incentives, as well as standardized local and regional laws and they
must be implemented effectively. For example, bribery needs to be condemned and
punished to the fullest extent of the law. When looking at regional laws, there is a
concern to arbitrate trade conflicts expeditiously and fairly.
Another common need was the education for private sector. This would focus on
technical skills, International Business, local laws, information technology and social
Other innovative measures that can be taken to attract foreign capital include a "one-stop
clearing house" for investors. A participant gave the example of Jampro in Jamaica where
foreign investors can go to take care of all their business needs i.e. registering and income
taxes. All documentation should be available in one location. In Belize we have
Beltraide, however this offers information about the business environment. It should
provide all documentation for investment.
In order to strengthen capital formation countries need to take full advantage of the
information technology. The Internet is a prime example where we could offer the sale of
local products. More local businesses might benefit more through amalgamation where
they could support each other and share human and financial resources.
Considering all the different sectors of society and the need to widen the productive base
of the region it was agreed that the most important step was collaboration. Government,
labor, private sector and civil society need to consolidate the process of social
partnership. This step however needs to be accomplished both on a local and regional
level. Belize is in a very strategic geographical location that could take part in both
Central America and the Caribbean. An assessment needs to be done looking at the
industries where the region has a comparative advantage. Within each member country,
however, the local market would need to be strengthened as well. Countries need to
identify areas of the economy that are self-sustaining, in example abstaining from the
imports of food products and targeting agriculture and industry which can create
foodstuffs that stay at home.
In conclusion, in order to overcome the regional constraints when focusing on business
we need more education in the area of globalization. Globalization has already
confronted Belize on different levels and there is a need to take advantage of our
geographic local as a Central American and Caribbean Country. Within this context,
there is a concern of working in collaboration with a level playing field where all
countries have similar opportunities and a standardized and harmonious system of law.
For example, there would be an exchange of information technology and training.
JUSTICE AND GOVERNANCE
Group Two was asked to address a series of questions pertaining to both justice and
governance with in the private and public sectors of a specific country. They focused on
the need for increased participation in order to promote accountability and transparency
in government. In Belize, there was consensus that the education system perpetuates a
dependency or complacency culture that extends from colonialism. People need to start
taking responsibility for their lives and reject conditioning involving handouts or bribes.
This system also creates many barriers that contribute to the lack of motivation,
cooperation and unity from the people including language, education and social barriers.
Similar to group one, education was emphasized where we need to break free from the
deterrents and implement a curriculum that will instill a sense of responsibility, teach all
languages, leadership (role models), organizational behavior, cooperation, teamwork,
entrepreneurial life skills, citizenship, social studies.
Education needs to start at the youngest age as well as the oldest with a concentration of
an understanding of the system and how citizenship relates to this. There is a need for
greater awareness of current events and basic data from government. The dissipation of
information allows for a more empowered people where they can hold the politicians
accountable and allow them to voice their concerns as well as enable them to utilize
resources like NGO's and private sector.
Human Resource Development
The current challenges facing the education system in preparing the youth of the
Caribbean for the 21st century is very similar to what the previous groups discussed. The
children need to be in contact with more information technology, life skills, social studies
and technical training. In order to maintain core cultural values, cultural classes like
language, history and citizenship classes need to be accessible. For example, there was an
emphasis on the need for education concerning HIV/AIDS, violence and Belizean
There is an increased need for data collection and analysis as well as the dissemination of
information in order to increase public awareness of beneficiaries and stakeholders. This
could be created through the establishment of public broadcasting supported by donors
and the community, which is not politically related.
The role of the university as well as other institutions, in the process of reform, could be
enhanced by offering International programs as well as classes that pertain to the needs of
Belize and the region. Universities also should collaborate with NGO's and the private
sector to provide seminars and training for adult education as well as reeducating the
labor force to seek new industries that will allow Belize to have a comparative advantage.
When creating and exploring the ideology of a new model of development is must be
crucial to include every sector. It is important for active participation of women, youth,
elderly, and marginalized groups in the decision making process. An example of
collaboration would be to give local business incentives for investments for meaningful
community development. There needs to be accountable and transparent mechanisms
institute to deliver high quality, affordable, relevant and accessible health and education
The discussion was brought to final thoughts considering the participants' vision and
strategies of Caribbean Development in the global system. Basically the ideology that
must be explored is the evolution of the collaboration of economic growth and the human
development. This model must be specific with a high level of participation from every
sector emphasizing culture. We must be able to customize our own reality and in every
step of this civil society would play a role in the design and implementation of all
It was quite suitable that this consultation took place during the month of September,
Independence time. This is a time to reflect, remember struggles and rejoice freedom.
Belize is a young country turning 20 years now. It is time for everyone to be involved to
decide the fate of the country, civil society has naturally evolved from the people to fill in
areas and complement Government.
Belize need to redefine the element that civil society will supply in this rapid period of
development for both Belize and the remainder of the world. A diverse group that
encompasses teachers, unions, farmers, non-governmental organizations, churches, and
citizens at large, civil society cannot act as one voice, yet we must rise above our
differences and find a common ground on major issues. How can we funnel the diversity
of suggestions that arise from civil society sectors into one cohesive plan? What role will
this play in the development of Belize? There is a need for new models of development
that incorporate economic growth as well as an investment in people with equity.
Remembering, that development can not be defined strictly by economics i.e. a rise in
Gross National Product or per capital income, but instead must also factor in what we call
freedoms of life, liberty, and education. Development as freedom, and development being
measured by enhancing the freedoms, livelihood, and happiness of citizens of the state.
*Teny Topalian Ministry of Education, Belmopan
*Dylan Vernon UNDP
*M.F. Cueller NDFB
*Velda Quero CVSS
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*L. A. Sylvester Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Belmopan bclii/cMln l I bil l
*DNA Salazar P.O. Box 107 Forest Dr. Belmopan lin ( a blI licI
*Janice Bain P.(
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*Zanaida Moya Ministry of Economic Development firstname.lastname@example.org
*Thomas Qubeck P.O. Box 74 Belmopan
*Lourdes Smith Belize Business Bureau Box 1882
*Carolyn Reynolds WIN Belize 6776 Mahogany St.
*Randolph Johnson P.O. Box 2359
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P.O. Box 177 Punta Gorda
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*Eva Middleton NOPCA
*Le Roy Flowers
26 West St.
Belize Red Cross 1st Gabourel Ln.
#9 South St. Belize City
26 Albert St. Belize City
7138 Bel Layout, Belize City
# 3 Forest Dr. Belmopan
#33 Freetown Rd.
BTNU Box 382 Belize City
2nd Floor Commercial Center
P.O. Box 246 Belize City
Human Rights BMP
Ministry of Human Development
40 Wilson St. Box 267
Monkey River Toledo District
5808 University Dr. Belize City
143 Sawai St. Dangriga
Alliance Weekly Newspaper
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