A Senate meeting is scheduled for January 19. However, only 12 Senators will be present leaving out the newly elected 13th Senator, Osmany Salas. Salas will not attend the first Senate Meeting for 2017 unless the President of the Senate, Lee Mark Chang, grants permission to delay the meeting. This request was made by the Senators representing the Opposition Party. The request was made because Senators are expecting to ratify a bill that seeks to amend the NGO Act. PUP Senator Valerie Woods says it’s only fitting that Salas who represents the NGO community be present when the bill is presented.
“Disingenuous and it reeks in bad faith that such a bill would be discussed in a senate where the 13 senator representing the NGO community is not present to participate in such a debate should the bill present itself at the senate and so we wrote to the President this morning requesting rescheduling the date knowing that the commencement day which the entire nation knew from October 20th when the Prime Minister signed that order that it is the 20th so why set a meeting one day before and that is our concern, we don’t feel it is the best interest of the public, of Belize to enter the first session of the new year discussing matters at the senate within this environment.”
“And of course maybe to the public it may seem as something minor that is to be amended to the NGO act but to the community it will in fact be something big for them.”
“Whether it is minor or major is irrelevant what is important is the role of senators and this constitutional amendment was passed nine years ago granting the okay that there be a 13th senator from the NGO community and yes you are absolutely right if any senator be it that of the church’s, business community or the unions if they were in that position where they were a senator elect and they were to take office if you will on the 20th knowing that there is a meeting the day before where possibly that a bill we be debated that can impact the community that they represent in good conscience I think they would have an issue with that. It is not in keeping with good governance, we don’t think that it needs to be because indeed meetings can be scheduled any day outside of the standing order required Tuesday and then it becomes a special sitting, it can be reconsidered there is no rule that says it cannot be changed because it has been set.”
President Chang has not responded to the Opposition’s request.