Senator Godwin Hulse was on The Morning Show this morning speaking on various issues surrounding immigration and nationality. His presence on the program comes at a time when the Belize National Teachers Union is calling for good governance; the opposition party is asking for the signing of the UN Convention against corruption as well as the installation of a thirteenth Senator and the Integrity Commission. Among the various angles that Hulse spoke about today, however, was the investigation into corruption to which the Government of Belize has recently agreed to a full Senate Inquiry as opposed to a Joint Select Committee which Hulse defended in the last Sitting of the Senate.
“I felt and still feel comfortable in the suggestion of a joint investigation because to be clear the report from the auditor general is laid before both houses, that is the auditor general’s responsibility to both houses. The House of Representatives is the elected house it is the people who are responsible to the people of Belize and they should have a right to investigate the stewardship of a department of government because the Executive is responsible to the Legislature. The fact that there is a constitutional provision for the senate does not give the senate exclusive right it gives the senate rights and powers, not exclusive. So this is going back and forth but the senate can do it but to my mind the standing orders provide for both the senate and the house. It’s a report that went before the senate and the house and I just simply felt that the senate and house should do it jointly. The bottom line is that the people of Belize must get an opportunity to hear this whole report be fleshed out in its entire details. Those persons who have done wrong the public should know and action should be taken against them and I support that.”
The Opposition has expressed concerns that the Government may attempt to hijack the commission when it comes to the thorough investigation into the reports. Senator Hulse refers to the concern as ludicrous.
“In a way to be honest with you I found the opposition’s statement ludicrous. Let me tell you why. First of all cabinet which is a part of the legislature is not attempting to hijack. Cabinet has acquiesced to senate inquiry, fine not a big deal lets go, but the standing orders at 70 clearly calls for the composition and it says the composition should be in relation to the representation in the senate. The government holds the majority in the senate and therefore the government should hold the majority in the committee but the government is not holding the majority in the committee, the government is going to have three seats and there are going to be four non-government seats. How can anybody say that three is bigger than four. The government has surrendered it’s majority because it will only have three on the committee while the opposition and social partners will have four, so how can that be hijacking? Please.”
The Government Press Office had issued a statement on the issue of the Senate Inquiry, dated September 13, 2016. The statement reads, quote, “Cabinet has taken this position in view of the reconsideration by the Belize Chamber of Commerce and by the Belize Council of Churches, both of whom were originally in favour of going the bi-cameral route. Cabinet is also persuaded by the fact that a seemingly substantial portion of the public apparently prefers the Senate to conduct the hearings, and by the further fact that the ultimate objective of holding such hearings will be served by either of the two routes on the table. There is thus no need for Cabinet to insist on its own preference for the bi-cameral method. Cabinet also agrees that one of the Social Partner Senators should chair the Senate Select Committee. Cabinet does insist, however, that the composition of the Committee reflect the balance of power in the Chamber, as is mandated by Standing Orders.” End of quote.