The Ministry of Economic Development today introduced a three-year Growth and Sustainable Development Strategy, its primary planning document, which seeks to guide overall development in Belize based on an integrated, systemic approach to sustainable development. The Ministry aims, among other things, for 5 percent annual growth in the short to medium term; to reduce poverty by at least half by 2030; to reduce homicide to under 10 per 100,000 annually; to provide universal access to basic and early childhood education and health care; provide a safeguard for natural resources; reduce government waste and improve allocation of financial resources. These and other goals within the Strategy are grouped in four broad areas described as “critical success factors”, that are part of a national framework for sustainable development.These are: optimizing national income and investment; building social cohesion and resilience; maintaining natural, environmental, historical and cultural assets, and strengthening governance and citizen security.Main consultant for the Strategy, Kent Vital, explains the importance of strategic planning:
Kent Vital, Strategy Consultant: So what the GSDS does it reflects specific actions that are expected to contribute towards attaining each of the necessary conditions that are under extension the critical success factors. Now as we go along, just bear in mind that we’re taking a sustainable development approach. We’re taking a system’s approach so we clearly recognize that all of these areas are inter related, actions in one area has implications on another, and that’s the area of the sustainable development approach so we have to produce this in such to understand, bearing that in mind we want to move from the vision of Horizon 2030 to the reality. So therefore we have to engage in effective planning so it starts with a good plan, then good sets of plans following. These plans need to be consistent will other sector plans that will be produced. These have to be consistent with the GSDS. Plans must be linked to the budget, and that’s an important element. So often we prepare plans but there’s no link to budgeting and often that’s why they sit on shelves because there’s no practical or serious way of moving forward with those plans.
The GSDS encompasses issues covered by previous medium-term economic development plans, as well as existing Government plans in many departments; but it incorporates, for the first time, both poverty reduction and long-term sustainable development issues. It builds on previous documents including especially Horizon 2030: National Development Framework for Belize 2010-2030, although some of its elements will take longer to implement. The World Bank Group worked closely with the Government and other stakeholders while producing its own diagnostic report on Belize, which we will tell you about later in the newscast. For now, according to the World Bank’s lead economist and program leader for the Caribbean, Francisco Carneiro, the Government and the Bank appear to be on the same page.
Francisco Carneiro, World Bank’s lead economist & program leader for the Caribbean: I think the choose strategies are very similar in that sense because they identify in the case of the government digital success factors that thought us pretty much the same in addressing the needs to improve the quality and addressing each and making the economy more competitive so that it can increase the ability to grow faster so I think there is a lot of convergence in that.