The BCCI establishes draft Campaign Financing Legislation Bill
The Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) is hoping to introduce a bill geared at regulating campaign financing in Belize. The venture to introduce the bill, which will be structured as an amendment to the Representation of People Act, via the Senate was sparked after its members expressed resounding support in a meeting held last Thursday. The organization is drafting the bill titled “Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill 2023”. To provide an update on the process of this initiative, the BCCI held a workshop with representatives from the media. Chamber President Marcelo Blake explained that while it will be challenging to pass the bill, the organization is committed to working with the government to make it law.
Marcelo Blake, President, Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry: “I must say it’s a draft so we will still need to take it to the drafts persons who have the better experience in the legal languages. It’s really just figuring out the best way to maneuver this within the current political arena to ensure that in fact this bill is actually put in place. It’s not a fix to everything, it is not a complete answer or a final document that is not as we said earlier live which means that it will be continuously changing and as we find the gaps, as the loopholes are identified we anticipate that there are going to be adjustments in order to make it better. We don’t have a timeline at the moment. It will have to go through the process as was highlighted earlier there is a process for us to be able to take it via the Senate Private Bill option and for that to happen there’s a long process that must be followed- well I shouldn’t say long a process that definitely can be maneuvered in a reasonable time so it is really incumbent on it getting to the Senate and for the vote to actually occur. One of the other things to highlight here is the fact that this was a part of the campaign promise by the current administration in their PR and publications pre and post getting into office there was in fact campaign financing on their first hundred days so it is concerning for us to see that in fact in the medium term development strategy 2022-2026 that was launched on Monday this is actually set out to be completed sometime around 2026. Why would it need to take that long if it was in fact a part of your first hundred day promise ? We’re now almost halfway through their first term.”
Blake further explained that the bill will not only benefit members of the business community but everyone else as well. He says that while some members of the BCCI may be against the initiative, a majority strongly support its implementation.
Marcelo Blake, President, Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry: “It’s important because each individual as you said it’s become second nature to know that okay when election rolls around I can anticipate that I will get some funds to encourage me to go to the polls and place my vote and in that it is important that persons understand that that small fee that you receive actually needs to last you five years. So I mean we could say the number. Your $50 is supposed to last you five years. So it’s ten dollars a year, break it down by days. There’s no value to you as a voter. Really you need to be looking out for the larger picture because at the end of the day if we move the country forward in a more positive light where campaign financing is regulated and monitored and we encourage that all those political parties are registered which is a part of the proposed bill then it then helps to create a little bit more predictability in how politics is done in Belize. Our members generally would be I guess supporters in one form or the other whether in cash or in kind and so what occurs is the fact that while you support and there may be some expectation for a return that’s not always the case. So you continue to support because it’s important for you to participate in the campaign arena but at the same time it’s important that our businesses are placed in a situation where they can be better able to disclose that information publicly. I think that’s important because it then places all the funds and if we go to the aspect of we call almost of a country global campaign fund where funds can be put in and tracked it then takes away from the individual companies worrying about what they’ll gain or not gain or what victimization may happen in the event that they participate in campaign financing.”