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Oct 13, 2016

Chamber of Commerce Pulls Out of Senate Inquiry, Plans One-Day Shutdown

Mark Lizarraga

The Chamber of Commerce met on Wednesday night in Belize City; there were two motions to discuss and determine as pressure grows to accomplish a good governance agenda. We can report tonight that Business Senator Mark Lizarraga has officially vacated his seat as a member of the recently appointed Senate Special Select Committee.  The decision to relinquish his post succeeds a vote taken by the membership of the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry during the Special General Meeting on Wednesday evening.  As we reported, there have been serious concerns about the composition and terms of reference of the task force charged with investigating the Immigration and Nationality Department.  Those issues were conveyed to the base of the private sector organization and an overwhelming majority then voted in favor that Lizarraga should not participate if the committee stands as it is.  On Wednesday, he attended the inaugural sitting of the committee, albeit under protest.  This morning, Senator Lizarraga told News Five that the Chamber has also decided to shutdown businesses across the country on a date that is yet to be announced.

 

Mark Lizarraga, Business Senator

“The Chamber did a poll of its members because these national issues before us concern us and when they did the poll of their membership, the members were saying clearly that they were not satisfied with a couple of things.  They were not satisfied with the terms and composition of the Special Select Committee for the investigation into the nationality and passport and visa issues and they were saying that they wanted certain laws to be passed to enact mechanisms to increase the transparency and accountability in the way we are governed.  So, last night at the meeting motions were passed along these lines for the membership, as is per our constitution.  We have to go to our members, we can’t just move on a poll.  So we went to our members to say what would you like us to do about your concerns expressed in the polls?  And our members were very clear that they do not want the senator for the business community to participate in the hearings unless the terms and constitution of that committee are changed because they believe that we will not get the hearing that the public deserves if we try to participate in a committee termed the way it is termed and composed the way it is composed.  In addition, there were several issues, like the appointment of the thirteenth senator, the reactivation of the Integrity Commission, the signing of the UNCAC, the anti-corruption convention and also the last point was the re-composition or the reactivation of the Public Accounts Committee.  We need to see the Public Accounts Committee more active and what the Chamber wanted to do in the event that government did not comply with those requests.  And the membership was very clear that they were in support of shutting down for one day in the event that these items were not met.”

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