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Oct 7, 2016

B.C.C.I. to Decide on Role with Senate Inquiry, Possible Shutdown

But the ongoing teachers’ strike has somewhat overshadowed the Select Senate Inquiry into the Auditor General’s Special Report on the Immigration and Nationality Department, for 2011-2013. But the issue is back to the front of the agenda of the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The B.C.C.I. has been coming under pressure for appearing to stall, rather than taking a stand on national issues, such as the ongoing teachers’ strike. But this coming Wednesday, the powerful private sector body is holding a business mixer to consult members on drastic measures to take in respect of issues of governance. First, the organization has now obtained the results of a poll taken by members on whether they ought to present another motion and Terms of Reference in respect of the composition and work of the Select Committee. The poll also asked members if given the current composition, they support the participation of Senator Mark Lizarraga in the Inquiry, since there is a general feeling that the Select Committee approved by the Senate last Friday, would not ensure an independent and thorough investigation. The responses of the poll have indicated an overwhelming preference for participation in an inquiry modelled on the motion the Chamber supported. This means that members do not support the Senate inquiry with a six-member committee having two Government representatives, as passed at the last Senate meeting. Second, there is an option to consider for a one-day shutdown if governance measures are not activated within a certain time frame. On this point, the private sector supports a one-day shutdown unless the Prime Minister signs the order for the thirteenth Senator immediately; appoints and activates the Integrity Commission without further delay, and makes immediate commitment to have legislation to reconstitute the Public Accounts Committee consisting of six representatives from the Government, two representatives from the Opposition and one representative from each of the Social Partners in the Senate. This is to be constituted within the next two weeks for passage into law within one month. The date of the shutdown will be agreed at the special mixer. The B.C.C.I. was extremely active during the 2005 riots and shut down businesses on several occasions, effectively bringing the government to its knees.

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