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Apr 1, 2016

Support for an Elected Senate from an Unlikely Corner

Carla Barnett

There is more from the Senate other that the budget debate that provide for interesting moments from senators on both sides of the floor. In her budget presentation, Doctor Carla Barnett, a former financial secretary, contextualized the role of the senate in respect of the annual budget.  She says that the senate has no influence over the Revenue Appropriation Bill, since government can function for up to a quarter of the financial year without an approved budget. But she made another point.  In the preamble to her presentation, Barnett addressed the composition of upper parliament.  This was done in the context of senators being appointed and not elected. The results of a 2008 referendum indicated that Belizeans voted overwhelmingly in favor of an elected senate but the government has failed to implement those results. Her position is that she supports the election of senators, which is not the position held by G.O.B.


Dr. Carla Barnett, U.D.P. Senator

“The truth is that the senate does not have power over money bills.  Indeed the most that the senate can do if this body feels that circumstances so require such action is to delay a money bill for a short time, one month.  Which has no meaningful effect since government can function up to four months without an approved budget and can spend during those four months up to one third of the budget approved in each budget line in the previous year.  So life would go on and a budget would eventually come into law whether this senate approves it today or not.  And it is not that I would ask that this senate be given any additional power over money bills at this time, in the present constitutional construct of an appointed senate.  Indeed it is my view that if the senate is to approve how the people’s money is to be raised and spent then the people should have a say in how the senate is selected.  So I firmly, personally, believe in an elected senate.  I believe in a senate where the standards of transparency of appointment and accountability for work done are equally applied to each member that sits in this honorable chamber.  It may not be opportune to raise this.  It may not even be a position that is widely supported but for what it’s worth it is my view.”

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1 Response for “Support for an Elected Senate from an Unlikely Corner”

  1. Concern says:

    Very well said Dr. Carla, the senate must be elected by the people and also that a 3rd senator must come into effect otherwise the Senators are just merely rubber stamps!!!!

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