The Sitting of the House got underway this morning at ten o’clock. The meeting opened with the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the House and the Leader of the Opposition expressing condolences to the families of the four fallen soldiers followed by a moment of silence for the men. Following the silence, before the business of the House got underway, things got heated in just before eleven o’clock this morning when the PUP Parliamentarians walked out of the House Meeting. The point of contention for the opposition was their refusal to be present while the Prime Minister presented what the opposition called a charade. There were other theatrics that occurred in today’s meeting as we highlight for you.
As the Speaker attempted to get into the order of business, the Leader of the Opposition objected, saying that the motion of no-confidence presented by them to the House should take precedence. Also rising on the matter were Cayo South Area Representative, Julius Espat and the Freetown Area Representative, Francis Fonseca.
Hon. John Briceno, Leader of the Opposition, People’s United Party: “As you know we submitted a motion of no confidence but I see that you have it towards the end of the House Meeting and we believe on this side that we should debate that first. I mean there is so much we should discuss even before we talk about the budget. I mean there is this legal case where the Supreme Court found the Minister of Finance illegally spending $1.5 billion dollars so I think that we should discuss it before.
Hon. Julius Espat, Cayo South: “Madam Speaker for the first time in the history of this country a sitting Prime Minister has been found guilty for unlawfully spending the people’s money.”
House Speaker Laura Tucker Longsworth: “I’m sorry. Please take your seat. Please take your seat. Member please take your seat.”
Hon. Julius Espat, Cayo South, People’s United Party: “Madam Speaker he will be reading the budget and we will be protesting it Madam Speaker because it is unlawful.”
Francis Fonseca, Freetown, People’s United Party: “I will certainly urge you that you appreciate that this no confidence motion must be given priority and precedence over all other matters including the reading of the budget. In fact it makes every sense for the House to determine whether or not a government enjoys the confidence of it’s members before proceeding with the important business of presenting the budget for the new fiscal year. I will simply end by asking you Madam Speaker to act in conformity with long well established practice and procedure and order that this no confidence motion be tabled and debated and voted upon as our first order of business today.”
Prime Minister objected to having the motion be brought first citing changes in the UK, initially referenced by Fonseca. Area Representative Florencio Marin objected to the Prime Minister’s comments; here is how that exchange went.
Rt.Hon.Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize: “Madam Speaker the order paper has bee set, certainly on our side we absolutely object to any departure from the order paper and the way of proceeding that you have already laid out we came to this house with that order paper in our hands and please Madam Speaker we would like to proceed as laid down by your good self and the standing orders.”
Hon. Florencio Marin Jr.: “I believe the Prime Minister has gotten out of clarification. No but Prime Minister you have gotten it wrong alright ? It is important to the British constitution and the rules surrounding it are dictated by convention. It has only been changed, the reason it is not the first order of business has only been changed is because it’s a fixed date we don’t have a fixed date yet so you are wrong Prime Minister. You are wrong.”
House Speaker Laura Tucker Longsworth: “I have taken note of everything that’s been said this morning and what I want to point out is if there was a problem you knew what the order of the paper was you could easily have approached me before so that the two sides could come together in agreement on this matter because the two sides have to agree of these things, you are fully aware of that member the standing orders control that kind of thing so let us proceed with the business of the day.”
Also brought to the House this morning is the proposal to have the contract for the Ombudsman, Lionel Arzu, renewed.