Thursday was the unions’ demonstration of corruption and the presentation of six demands made to the Government of Belize. 24 hours later, the unions were in meeting with Prime Minister Dean Barrow.
Thursday was the unions’ demonstration of corruption and the presentation of six demands made to the Government of Belize. 24 hours later, the unions were in meeting with Prime Minister Dean Barrow. In the minutes of that meeting, there were several issues that the Prime Minister agreed on but there were also some that he stood firm on. We start with the demand for the completion of the first phase and start of the second phase of UNCAC. UNCAC is a convention against corruption that the Government signed onto in December 2016. According to the union, the work is at a standstill and they want to see it fully implemented. According to the Prime Minister, the hold up has to do with a report that is pending from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). PM says the UNDP has committed to delivering the final report by March 7, 2020. Once submitted, then the Government can then move on to implementing the recommendations. PM also committed to working out the financing in the upcoming budget if the unions can come to an agreement with the Attorney General in terms of his ministry’s capacity. The second demand discussed is the pending report from Senator Aldo Salazar on the Senate Inquiry. The PM reported to the unions that Salazar had filed a complaint with him saying all the other Senators abandoned him and he was left to do the report alone. It was also noted in the meeting that upon the departure of Senator Courtney the Opposition failed to name a replacement on the Committee and that BNTU’s Elena Smith failed to render support. Dean Flowers of the PSU responded on behalf of Smith saying that it is the Chairman who is responsible to compile and draft the report. Still, with all that said, no timeline was given as to when the report will be completed. The third demand has to do with the Integrity Commission, its composition and its functions. The unions are asking that Prime Minister readjust the makeup of the commission and not allow the government to have the majority. The minutes of the meeting on this section reads, quote, “Prime Minister informed that he is not in agreement to have the Integrity Commission reports published in any newspaper. When asked what can be done to correct the noncompliance and non-payment of fines the Prime Minister informed that not much as the DPP does not seem keen on prosecuting those who are late to file or do not at all file and who is subsequently fined and do not pay either. The PM informed that he is satisfied with the manner in which the members of the Integrity Commission are appointed despite the majority being appointed by the Government. He advised that he refuses to change the manner in which the members are appointed or the composition as he believes in a majoritarian democracy.” End of quote. The other point has to do with the Public Accounts Committee, it is make-up and the lack of participation from the UDP members. Again we quote from the minutes, “PM informed that while he is prepared to look at the rules on how the PAC operates he rejects completely any request for the composition to be changed and he is a firm believer in majoritarian democracy an opposes any dilution of that principle. Furthermore, he made it clear that he will never approve of any legislation that proposes to change the majority from the government. It was suggested that John Saldivar should be removed from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) but PM says he does not have the powers to remove him because he was elected to the post by the House of Representatives.” As for the Campaign Finance Law, the Prime Minister says he supports the idea and that he is committed to funding a consultant or draftsman for the legal work and countrywide consultations within reason. WE will have more on this story in tomorrow’s newscast.