Also arising in the morning portion of the Senate Sitting was a motion for Good Governance in Belize. This motion is one undertaken by the 26 elected PUP Parliamentarians based on the promotion of social, economic and environmental justice. Lead Government Senator Eamon Courtenay presented the motion just after ten o’clock this morning.
Senator Eamon Courtenay: “I move that whereas standing order 26 of the House of Representatives provide for a motion to be moved with the permission of Madam Speaker and whereas the people of this great nation deserve a better Belize, deserve good governance and deserve to once again live in a truly democratic nation where the rule of law is of paramount importance and whereas all twenty six duly elected members of the House of Representatives on the Government’s side had covenanted to one, work ceaselessly achieve the goals set out in the Plan Belize manifesto of the People’s United Party. Two, above all remain faithful to the motto of the PUP “Serve the people” and not to use their offices for personal gain. At all times faithfully uphold and defend the constitution and laws of Belize to unreservedly support plans and policies of a PUP government and promote social justice, economic and environmental justice. Ensure that all workers receive fair pay for their work and to implement a livable minimum wage of $5 per hour. Work to eliminate economic and social privilege and disparity among Belizeans and to protect the right of all to life, liberty, access to affordable education, universal healthcare, land and housing, and the right to live in peaceful communities, to protect the identity, dignity and social values of Belizeans including Indigenous peoples to actively promote sustainable development in Belize and to protect our natural and built environment. To insist on good and transparent governance and to hold accountable those who betray the public good. To defend Belize’s territorial integrity and to protect Belize’s interests in international fora.”
In his views expressed on the good governance motion UDP Senator Michael Peyrefitte questioned the need for it to have reached the Senate. He added to the Briceno government that instead of the motion they should act on the PUP’s manifesto promises.
Senator Michael Peyrefitte: “The first question that came to my mind is why ? Why is this even necessary ? We know what the PUP campaigned on. We know what the PUP won its victory on. We know what they said they would do so what the Belizean public wants them to do is to do what they said they would do. Reminds me of I don’t know if you were taught to write an essay, say what you’re going to say, say it then say what you just said but this also reminds me of the saying that goes stop your coming and come. Don’t say what you’re going to do, do it. You’re bringing a motion essentially saying we’re going to promote world peace well who’s going to disagree with that ? But the Devil is in the details Madam President. We don’t want you to say you’re going to bring for example a minimum wage rate of $5 bring the bill, do it. We don’t want you to say you’re going to reconstitute the Public Accounts Committee, do it. It’s not like this is an issue that is old at all for the PUP. The past Chairman of the committee who is now a minister of government had great ideas as to how you could reform the PAC. You’re in government now reform it like you wanted it reformed when you were in opposition.”
Senator Courtenay fired a response to the opposition on the good governance motion saying that the motion is part of the government’s reform agenda to have all elected representatives be held duly accountable on all their actions throughout their term under the Briceno administration.
Senator Eamon Courtenay: “This da noh the best is yet to come. I repeat and I answer to those who ask why is it that there is in the motion the third recital which says “And whereas all twenty six duly elected members of the House of Representatives covenanted to” and then it sets out ten covenants that were made the purpose is clear. The honorable Prime Minister called on his elected representatives who had signed that covenant prior to the election to bring it now to the National Assembly since the people sent you all here, put it in black and white on the records of the House of Representatives and this honorable Senate. I don’t understand why the other side have a difficulty in holding the People’s United Party representatives to these covenants. Is it that they can’t hold themselves to these covenants ? This Madam President, members of the Senate, is a step in the right direction. To Honorable Senator Pitts you craved, you implored us to provide the details. We were criticized that the spirit now da wah ghost. This is our reform agenda, this is what was in the manifesto. The manifesto is now the plan of action for the government and so in the days and the weeks, months to come you will get the details. You will get the bills. You will get the amendments and I assure you and all the senators and Senator Salas brought it up that under this administration we will be working the Senate in a different way, in a transparent way, in an open way and in committees. We are full well aware that there is no rock here, we do not have a majority and therefore it is necessary for us to build a consensus and that is our intention.”
Weighing in on the motion as well was the Senator for the non-governmental organizations, Osmany Salas. Salas in his introduction assured the Senate President that he will be fair in his views and that the government will not have super powers in the Senate.
Senator Osmany Salas: “With all that power, that super majority in the House of Representatives comes responsibility and I point out the obvious that here in the upper chamber the ruling party holds no such super majority so I commit and I hope we all commit to continue to engage in robust, mature deep discussion and debate. The Good Governance in Belize motion 2021 I want to take a slightly different tack on it. In the preamble section number one to ten I think the motion could have done without that. For me the important section what follows “now therefore be it resolved” from number one to eight. I think it is a good thing that this motion is being tabled here today and we do intend to support it because it commits the government and it puts on the record what they intend to achieve over the life of this administration. Granted some of the wording could have been fine tuned and I will point out certain areas where I think the wording could have been different but the spirit of what is intended we must support and I must say that it is consistent with a joint declaration that three of the social partners sign onto a few weeks before general elections and I refer to the name of that joint declaration “Declaration of the Social Partners of Belize for reform of essential oversight mechanisms to strengthen the democratic governance of Belize.” which was signed onto by the Belize Network of NGOs, the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the National Trade Union Congress of Belize and I’ve already had initial discussion with my colleague from churches to see how we can also bring the churches to sign onto and join and support this joint declaration and if what I see laid out here from number one to eight on this motion is consistent for the most part with what we want to see accomplished.”