Last week the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry, BCCI, wrote to the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dean Barrow, expressing concerns over the Government’s decision to no longer financially support the Senate Special Select Committee past November 2017. According to the President of the BCCI, Nikita Usher, Government’s decision to no longer fund the senate hearing goes against the Committee’s objectives and says that the Senate hearing is not an expense but an investment. According to Committee Member, Senator Mark Lizarraga, there is much more to be revealed.
Mark Lizarraga, Senator
“What the chamber is saying is that if you have the National Assembly or the senate calling for independent hearings, a part of being independent is having access to funding so that you can do the work that you need to do. This is highlighted as well in UNCAC and the UN has a similar position that if a body is to be independent its funding needs to be independent. Again if we are serious about seeing what has happened in that department, in that Ministry then we have to let the work of the committee continue. The committee will decide who it will call, when it will call and how long it will continue.”
“Just to point out your terms of reference doesn’t have a time frame?”
Mark Lizarraga, Senator
“No it does not and rightfully so it shouldn’t because we need to do a thorough investigation, we need to do a complete investigation. Again it is my view and the view of others that this should not have stopped those in the Ministry conducting their own investigation and making their own recommendations to the police where wrongdoing was done, making administrative changes we’ve seen a lot of administrative changes put into place the new director had said that she has plugged a lot of leaks and a lot of systems have been put in place and that is good news certainly but we need to continue to press. We know for example that many people did illegal activities and we need to see that we can gather as much information that will be passed on to the DPP for her determination as to what happens then but certainly the police has a role to play and even persons in the ministry including the new director; they have a responsibility in following the recommendations of the Auditor General that are quite extensive and we have yet to go through those to with the new director so this week we’ll be getting into that I believe.”