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Jun 30, 2017

House Meets; P.U.P. Questions Make Up of Economic Development Council

John Briceño

The House of Representatives met in its final session before the mandated summer break and there was a lot to discuss. We’ll have all the highlights, but first, to the development bills. The Economic Development Council is now a creature of law, following an interesting debate in the House of Representatives. The Council is considered the Government’s arm in reaching out to the private sector, but all of its members are appointed by the Prime Minister – five from line Ministries and the others from major sectors of the economy. But the Opposition’s members contend that the Council is not doing its job if the economy is sluggish. Both Julius Espat and John Briceño say the Council’s view must be expanded.

 

Julius Espat

Julius Espat, Area Rep., Cayo South

“This legislation that is being proposed here is just a theoretical legislation in my point of view; it is just paper, but in reality will have and will make no difference if the person that is supposed to make the decisions does not want to listen to advice. As far as I can recall since 2008, the Chamber of Commerce which represents the business community have a hard time getting their ideas across because the Prime Minister and his government have simply not listened to their proposals. And we have seen this back and forth on the media and some of us that are members of the Chamber of Commerce like myself, understand it a little better.”

 

John Briceño, Leader of the Opposition

“The concern that we are having here, Madam Speaker, is that in effect the Prime Minister is appointing his choir, and his choir is going to sing praises to the Prime Minister. This should not be an Economic Development Council Act; this should be the Prime Minister’s Choir Act. Why do I say that? Well, because there are going to be ten members; of these ten members, five of them are going to be from the line ministries which he appoints as Prime Minister, so they are going to do what he wants; they are going to tell him what he wants to hear. He’s going to appoint five from the private sector: one from banking and finance; one from tourism; distribution services, agriculture and exports – but he is going to appoint them, he is going to pick them. Why can’t the Prime Minister allow the Chamber or the Belize Business Bureau to name some of these people? Why can’t he allow the B.T.I.A… (Applause) to appoint their members – they understand the industry, Madam Speaker. Why can’t he allow them… (Interruption). This is an advisory council; they are not going to implement policies, so bring people who may not think like you. What the Prime Minister is doing wiith this by appointing the people that he wants and the people that love him and the people that praise him will not allow him to have a different view of how they have been messing up the economy since 2008. That is the truth. That is what the I.M.F. said. I didn’t say that.  The I.M.F. has said that.”

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