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Nov 10, 2016

Steering Committee Formed to Guide Process of Picking 13th Senator

Froyla Tzalam

By January of 2017, the population of Belize’s Upper House of parliament will have been increased by one. A thirteenth member of the Senate will be elected from among members of the one hundred and forty-three registered Non-Governmental Organizations, some of whom met in Belmopan on Wednesday. But with just twenty-two N.G.O.’s in good standing under the N.G.O. Act, how will the vote be conducted? The Media Relations Officer for the newly formed Thirteenth Senator Steering Committee, Froyla Tzalam, in a telephone interview with News Five, outlined the main challenges to reach majority or even full compliance.

 

On the Phone: Froyla Tzalam, Media Relations Officer, 13th Senator Steering Committee

“What happens is, in order to be [in] good standing, you basically have to produce two documents: one is an audited report if you have more than twenty-five thousand dollars in your budget; and secondly is to do an annual report. And it seems to be, from the pre-discussions, that the audit has been a major barrier for full compliance. Another barrier was exactly where N.G.O.’s are supposed to file their documents. There seems to be confusion as to who and which bodies are responsible; it seems to be three, so for the Steering Committee, one of the things we want to do as soon as possible is to have that process clearly indicated by the Attorney General’s Office and the N.G.O. office as to where exactly – what is the process and to whom exactly we have to deliver these reports to.”

 

A deadline of December sixteenth has been set for registered N.G.O.’s to become in good standing under the Act; only these organizations can nominate and vote on their representative once the final list is submitted by the Attorney General’s office. The Steering Committee is chaired by Janelle Chanona of OCEANA, with Osmany Salas of the Belize Tourism Industry Association as vice-president; Amanda Acosta of the Audubon Society as secretary and Armando Aban of the Scout Association of Belize as treasurer, with Tzalam filling out the final position.

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