The Organization of American States (OAS) in collaboration with the US Embassy in Belize rolled out the “Promoting an Open Government Ecosystem in Belize” project. The initiative seeks to establish management practices based on openness, accountability, and easy access to public information. As a result, there were several initiatives geared towards promoting this ecosystem. Today, the project saw several recipients received grants of five thousand US dollars made possible through the US Embassy to further promote open government. Starret Greene, OAS Representative told Love news that the private sector can become the conduit through which information is shared with the public.
Starret Greene, OAS Representative: “Civil society organizations and social actors have a key role to play in this process of open government. Because it’s not every individual citizen that can see the government or see their parliamentarian when they want to but if they form themselves in groups like citizenship organizations, like civil society organizations these can become representatives of the people on particular specific issues. One of the ways that the private sector can assist in bringing about a more open government is first of all for the private sector and the government to forge stronger relations where there is a relationship based on trust and where whatever happens in government the private sector can be brought in to be part of the decision making process, if the government is going to be engaging in a big project lets say and it has not had the time to inform the people the private sector partnership suggests that the private sector will be informed and that in turn that particular organization or organizations can go back and tell the people what is going on. Too often things are done and nobody knows what’s happening in government.”
Belize Chamber of Commerce, was one of the recipients of the grant. Love news spoke with Dyon Elliott, Chief Policy Analysis for the Belize Chamber of Commerce who said that with the grant the Chamber will put in place a policy tracker website.
Dyon Elliott, Chief Policy Analyst, BCCI: It’s a website that will be designed very similar to what exists in other jurisdictions, usually by a government in those other jurisdictions. For example in the United Kingdom, they have legislation.gov.uk for example. You can be able to go to that website and you can search literally almost by day, because they obviously have a very active parliament. In Belize usually our laws make it online a little bit not so fast and not as quick as we would like them to and usually if you want to be up to date you have to subscribe to the Gazette which is the hard copy. So what we’ve proposed is to create a platform, a web portal along with our public sector partner which is the Department of Public-Private Sector Dialogue which is the secretariat of the Economic Development Council which is housed in the Prime Minister’s office to create a web portal that not only gives people access to bills and statutory instruments and regulations that are being passed through the national assembly but it’s also to have any discussion on policies up there. For example, we have the Environmental Protection Act which is the plastic phase out as most people know that is being passed that is in draft we can put it up there as well. One of the things, aside from giving the technical information it is also to provide explanations or impact assessments or description of what would happen with these laws, how it would affect businesses.
Other recipients included Ya’axche Conservation Society, Wildlife Conservation Society, and the Child Development Fund.