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Jun 18, 2015

N.G.O.s Have Concerns About Amendments

Edilberto Romero

Among the complaints we’ve heard about the proposed amendments is that there is much more power being vested in the Minister, and apparently less inclusion of N.G.O.’s and less dependence on technical consultations with those in the know.

 

Edilberto Romero, Executive Director, Programme for Belize

“One of the concerns was the composition of the board; I am not sure what’s the final composition that went there. the composition right now, as it is of PACT, is that there are more non-governmental representatives on the board. The draft we saw had more government representative and if that is the case—of course I’m not sure what exactly was tabled at cabinet—but if that is the case, it means it is going backward because for the international community, if you want to raise more funds, you need more N.G.O.s to ensure that there’s that transparency and accountability and to ensure that decisions are adequately discussed and not biased towards one side and that it is good decision for protected areas management.”

 

Mike Rudon

“We also understand, again this is just from a brief look at it, that the minister will now have the sole authority to reserve or de-reserve land in Belize.”

 

Edilberto Romero

“I’m not sure exactly how that is at the moment in the document that went to the cabinet, but I could tell you what it should be. What it should be is that there should be a process for any reservation or de-reservation—a process that looks at it from a scientific base that would justify whether it should be reservation or de-reservation. And there should be a technical committee or commission that looks and evaluate that. And after that evaluation is done, then the minister should proceed to reservation or de-reservation. If it is left up to the minister then it is going backward because then it doesn’t ensure that it will be done scientifically and methodically and justifiably.”

 

Mike Rudon

“Sir is there anything—now we are assuming worst-case scenario—that these concerns that you spoke about are in the final government which was tabled in cabinet. If that is indeed the case, is there anything that the N.G.O.s can do? I mean that law is about to be passed if the cabinet gives the approval and there is a House Meeting June twenty-sixth where it is likely that it will be passed.”

 

Edilberto Romero

“I am not in a position to talk about that right now because I am talking as Programme for Belize, but I know APAMO is looking at those issues and basically we are a member of APAMO and whatever APAMO decides, we go for.”

 

It is reported that the amendments are to be taken to the next House Meeting.

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