I remember starting the year with a “glass half full” outlook on the 12 months ahead.

After the trials of 2020, I was focused on 2021 being better. How wrong I was.

We’ve reached that time when many of us reflect on the year just passed and look forward to the year ahead. I’m not sure which is more scary.

For a number of reasons, 2021 has been a challenging year. Of course, it will be remembered for the re-emergence of Covid. This time it came in the form of the supposedly more contagious and more dangerous Delta derivative. Surprisingly, by the time it arrived here, it didn’t seem to be any more aggressive than the 2020 version.

With international travel still slammed shut and much of the country in various states of lockdown, including our major city shut off from the rest of the country for 118 consecutive days, it was a tough year for many businesses.

Our once-great tourism industry is in tatters. Hospitality too. Previously wonderful restaurants are no more. Brand new hotels sit idle with skeleton staffing. Motels stay afloat only due to their new-found role as beneficiary accommodation centres. Exporters can’t travel to make sales and importers are struggling to get goods into the country due to factory closures and a crippled global shipping network.

Businesspeople have taken on increased debt just to pay their people or stay afloat long enough to one day open their doors again. The cost of that debt has doubled in the past 12 months and will increase again in the year ahead.

For some reason we hear people celebrating the resilience of our economy, the Finance Minister among them. We seem too willing to look past the tens of billions of borrowed money that resilience has cost us and ignore the fact that entire industries, such as tourism and international education, once the earners of those billions, have evaporated.

Similarly, our “booming” real estate market is repeatedly held up as an example that everything is well despite the fact that that same cheap money, pumped into the economy by a Government seemingly desperate to make its people more dependent, is fuelling the fire.