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BFF asks to restrict TASA from accessing PACT Funding due to irregularities

The Belize Federation of Fishers (BFF) has, in a press release today, asked that access to funding granted to the Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association, TASA, be restricted. That funding was granted to TASA by the Protected Areas Conservation Trust, PACT, for the implementation of a program titled, “Enhancing Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association’s Management of the Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve, Assisting in Securing Belize’s Marine Biodiversity”. The funding is a little over one million forty-five thousand dollars. So why is the BFF asking for the restriction? According to the organization’s release, the BFF sat on the TASA board of directors but was, quote, “unlawfully removed,” unquote; and hence were never consulted or contributed to the development of the program. The BFF believes that, quote, “the composition of the TASA Board of Directors was changed in contravention of the required legal procedures and that TASA has, therefore, been operating illegally since 2016,” unquote. It adds that the organization is in contravention of the NGO Act which states that an NGO “shall be independent of Government control in its operations and management”. According to BFF, quote, “since changes were made to the TASA Board, at least two board members (including the Fisheries Administrator who previously sat on the Board as an ex-officio member only) are government linked”. unquote. Additionally, the BFF states that when it comes to Money Laundering regulations, TASA as a Designated Non-financial Business & Profession failed to notify the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of changes in directors and senior officers as required. As a result, the BFF has written to PACT and the FIU to have the funding award reviewed and asks that PACT restricts access to the funds until the legality of the board’s composition is established. BFF says that both entities have responded saying they will review the situation.