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Mar 31, 2015

President Audrey Matura-Shepherd Says Passage of Bill Circumvents Existing Law

Audrey Matura-Shepherd

According to the CWU President, Matura-Shepherd, what has transpired in the House and Senate was deliberately accomplished to circumvent existing legislation.  That body of law, the Finance and Audit Act of 2005, was established specifically to avoid such instances where large sums of money, exceeding the ten million dollar benchmark, go unaccounted.

 

Audrey Matura-Shepherd, President, Christian Workers Union

“The N.T.U.C.B. teamed up with the Association of Concerned Belizeans, Godwin Hulse, the Medical and Dental Union, they moved the court to complain over the fact that the then government administration was making loans and spending monies without going to the national assembly and in violation of the Finance and Audit Act of 2005.  As a result of that case which they won, so there’s a report of April thirtieth where they won that case.  And when that matter was taken to the Court of Appeal the Court of Appeal also upheld it, upheld the decision of Justice Haffiz.  Justice Haffiz ruled that there was a settlement deed between the Belize Bank and the Musa Administration that it was unlawful what they did under the Finance and Audit Reform Act because the agreement was never approved by parliament.  So I think the track record of the N.T.U.C.B. as a unit is clear cut.  Imagine, then they went to the courts to move that the government be dealt with because that government administration was violating the act.  It is as a result of that I can say that in 2010 there was an Audit Reform Act which for the first time ensured that there was some penalty.  Because part of the problem, and understand that it is soft in the sense that too many legislations say you don’t do this and you don’t do that, it’s wrong, but there is no penalty.  But not only that, you have to look at our constitution, the way our budgets are passed and the way budget spending is approved.  What is happening now is an outright attempt to circumvent any oversight; and worse yet, to legitimize a conduct against a valid legislation to legitimize it by a new legislation.  I think from the aspect of all the unions, clearly if we went and fought to ensure that there be better accountability and I know that the action of the unions were important in the 2010 reform, we would want to protect that.  So I don’t think anyone should read whatever happened in the senate, because there’s clearly an inquiry as to what happened, as an indication that the unions have backed down.  That’s not fair for them.”

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