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Oct 19, 2016

Aldo Salazar Chairs Senate Committee, Says Voting Will Not Be Focus

The Senate Select Committee on immigration proceeded with its sitting this morning in Belmopan.  Government Senator Aldo Salazar was appointed chairman of the Senate Select Committee to investigate the immigration hustle revealed in the Auditor General’s special report.  The Committee proceeds with its membership of two Government Senators – Salazar and Minister of State for Finance, Doctor Carla Barnett; the Senator representing the Churches, Reverend Ashley Rocke; and the Senator representing the trade unions, Elena Smith. Senator representing the business community, Mark Lizarraga, had indicated that he would not be attending this session for personal reasons. The Opposition has reversed its position and we will have that later. With all of this as background, News Five asked the new chairman if he anticipates issues with the final report to be written that would cause him to become a possible tie-breaking vote if it is needed.

 

Aldo Salazar

Aldo Salazar, Chair, Special Senate Select Committee

“I don’t know that voting is going to be really, was never contemplated to be of any significance in the committee because we would have to have some semblance of agreement by a majority in order to produce a report. But the issue is that every member of the committee is entitled to produce their own report if they don’t agree with the report of the majority. So it was never an issue of voting to stifle any person’s views as to what should be in a majority report. Majority report is simply going to reflect that which the majority agrees to. If there is any minority or any person who does not or who wants to add anything extra to the report, but the majority disagreed with that view, that person is free to do so or persons are free to do so in their own report. As far as I understand it, unless there is a tie—if there is an equality of votes—which cannot exist as we presently sit unless somebody abstains and if we add two more, it will stay the same so that if there is full participation, I will never be able to exercise any voting right unless somebody abstains and apart from that, there is an equality.”

 

The Committee discussed in camera the planned schedule and budgeting for the hearings after the press briefing. The budget has been approved for submission to the Ministry of Finance. It has been announced that the next meeting is a public hearing on Wednesday, November ninth. Auditor General Dorothy Bradley will be the first person called to testify. She will be followed by, in order: support staff of the Audit Department; the C.E.O., Director, other staff, the Minister and Minister of State of the Ministry of Immigration and Nationality who were in office during the review period. Since that period is April of 2011 to September of 2013, such prominent names as Gareth Murillo, Ruth Meighan, Maria Marin and especially Elvin Penner are in the list of persons to be called to testify. Hearings are scheduled for nine a.m. to twelve noon and one p.m. to four p.m. on each subsequent Wednesday until the hearing is complete. 

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