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Sep 20, 2017

Chamber Intervenes to Stop Freeze in Senate Allocation

On the eve of independence, the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry has sent a strong letter to Prime Minister Dean Barrow, asking that he retract the financial ceiling for the Special Select Committee he set in his August third letter to clerk of the National Assembly Eddie Webster. Slowly but surely, the hearings have been revealing the extent of the “culture of corruption” that has pervaded the Immigration Department from the bottom to the top, as expressed by former finance officer Teresita Castellanos during her testimony. Prime Minister Barrow confirmed allocations of over one hundred and fifty thousand dollars to carry hearings through to November, but expressed that he would not agree to allocating funds beyond that, citing commitments to the Integrity Commission and UNCAC implementation. BCCI President Nikita Usher writes that the Government wants the committee to limit or end its investigation, which goes against the principle of an independent and impartial inquiry and breaches the standard principles of independence of the committee. Usher also cites that the United Nations Development Program is funding most of the project for UNCAC implementation, with fifty thousand dollars set aside through 2019.  As for the Integrity Commission, more than one hundred and eighty thousand dollars is already allocated, and therefore Usher sees no reason why those oversight bodies’ funding would interfere with the work of the committee. It asks for a detailed breakdown of the committee’s expenditures for the social partners to understand how that works and closes with a plea for understanding by the Government that oversight bodies are investments in preventing and curing corruption and keeping Belize from sinking further into a cesspool of corruption. The Committee meets again on Wednesday, September twenty-seventh.

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