The Belize Chamber of Commerce (BCCI) participated in an all-day workshop at the BCCI Headquarters. The BCCI partnered with the Love Foundation to organize the eighth such event. The aim of the workshop was to educate their members on different ways to combat corruption. Various organizations have already engaged in the workshop such as the Belize National Teacher’s Union and Community Leaders. The facilitator of the workshop, Dr. Louis Zabaneh briefed the media on the different laws they reviewed during the workshop.
Dr.Luis Zabaneh, Facilitator: “We’re looking at corruption, governance, ethics and leadership. So this program is funded by the US Embassy, we’re grateful for the support through the Love Foundation. What we cover mainly we start out by looking at the definition of corruption, what are the different forms that corruption takes because you’d be surprised that the are so many ways in which corruption occurs. So we look at that at the beginning. After doing that we look at what has been done in Belize since 1981 to now in terms of laws, institutions that have been put in place so for example we start with the Code of Conduct in our Constitution, we look at all the different laws; Prevention of Corruption Act, we look at the Finance and Audit Reform Act, we look at the Auditor General’s functions, we look at the Contractor General. We look at the Ombudsman,we even look at some of the Public Service regulations that are put in place. Previous sessions we’ve had up to sixty members and so it varies in size as we go around depending on the organisation. We all as citizens need to be vigilant, we need to educate ourselves about this matter. Kofi Annan the former Secretary General of the United Nations has a definition of corruption that says it’s an insidious plague and how it adversely affects especially developing countries like Belize, it adversely affects our economic development, or creates situations that promote crime and so we really have to look at this matter of corruption. It’s a very very serious problem that we have but once we educate ourselves, we come together, it is something that we can overcome.”
Love News spoke to two of the participants who stated the different ways they will tie this training to their everyday life.
Melanie Eiley, Participant:”This workshop is very interesting it’s like a follow up to the UNCAC training that I received last year, it was a one week training so this one day training really impacts what I’ve learned and the advocacy that needs to be done. We realize that corruption is all in our faces and we need to nip it in the bud, each of us. We have a big membership at the coalition so when I go back I’m going to share this information with them and to impact everybody’s lives because in the end it’s Belize that will benefit to address all the corruption that exists in the country and we can’t deny that it doesn’t exist because it’s in our faces everyday, it’s not just public sector but it’s also within the private sector. So I think together from the training we received today we can take that back and make the changes that we need to make in our own little corner of this society.”
Tony Gillins, Rugby Belize: “I represent Rugby Belize which is a sports organisation. As you well know there’s a big issue around corruption in the Sports Council with the previous administration so yeah it’s really good for us to know and I think more of this needs to happen. More voters, more tax payers need to understand what corruption is and how we can combat it because it’s been going on for so long. What I’ve leaned today is that there are people in this county that really do care about what’s going on. Sometimes when you hear the news and you read the news you think yeah well it’s just Belize we don’t really care about it but actually there are people that do care. What needs to happen now is more of these courses, more people become aware and we can actually take some action, we really need to do that. We need to make people accountable for what they’re doing especially our tax dollars. We’re paying these things and it’s our money that’s being wasted so yeah I liked it. There’s something I didn’t understand which really opened my eyes like UNCAC I didn’t know that was around, I knew about the Integrity Commission but very few people do so yeah it’s been very eye opening for me.”
The day culminated with the participants receiving a certificate of participation.