The norm in any election year is the promise from all politicians for transparency and accountability. This pre-campaign season, however, the buzz word seems to be ‘corruption’. The politicians are pointing fingers at each other and the private sector and NGOs are saying it is time to end the corruption. At the start of the week, the National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB) expressed dissatisfaction at the slow pace the Government is taking to implement the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC). Back in December 2016, acting Prime Minister Patrick Faber had signed the UNCAC. Fast forward to yesterday and Faber explained that works to achieve full implementation are still ongoing.
Hon. Patrick Faber, Deputy Prime Minister of Belize: “The UNCAC was signed so I am the one who penned it and I didn’t take that lightly, in fact I think the issue of corruption is one that has plagued us and I’m not throwing any stones or calling any names so please nobody go dice and splice what I am saying but it is a matter that really needs attention in this country and you know that might not sit well with everybody but for the sake of our country we have to start taking these actions that can hold us accountable very seriously. And so you’ve heard me speak about campaign finance reform, I think that is very important but complying with the UNCAC, complying with the corruption list to provide the proper information. What I said this morning was that in many respects we don’t have the proper data to fill in to the slots that they are asking us to so when we don’t have that information we get rated negative and that’s not good for us either. I remember Mr.Lopez saying ‘well in the PUP time we did it.’ but if they’re asking you to fill in A,B and C we don’t have information on B, we don’t have no information on C we get the lowest grade possible just because we don’t have the data then that works against us. So all I’m saying is let’s ensure that we can provide the data and that’s a big problem in this country from all aspects, we are not a very data driven society at all and that hampers us from making proper decisions in many ways but if we’re going to compile on that or compact on that the fact that these agencies are looking for specific information, we don’t have the data to give them that can’t work well in our favor so lets’ fix those before we are quick to share things with other entities that will grade us in that manner. That’s all I’m saying; I’m not opposed to it.”
The government was pushed into signing onto UNCAC after the Belize National Teachers Union executed strike action with a list of 13 demands, including UNCAC. Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte had explained in an interview earlier this year that the process is expensive and requires the input from external agencies.