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Jan 9, 2018

Judicial Budget Close to 10 Million, but Still Miniscule

Kenneth Benjamin

Government’s allotment of financial resources to the judiciary has always been an area of concern for Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin.  As presiding judge of the Supreme Court for the past seven years, he has made a point of highlighting the budget set aside for the justice system to function effectively.  Last year, those resources were trimmed down due to government reducing its fiscal expenditure.  The CJ says that of the almost ten million dollars accounted for, it represents only one percent of the national budget.

 

Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin, Supreme Court of Belize

“This event, though ceremonial in its flavor, is integral to the process of carrying out the constitutional mandate of the judicial arm of the state, which is to provide access to justice through a system that is fair, prompt, independent, efficient and effective.  Naturally, the ability to fulfill this mandate is constrained by budgetary allocations and the availability of human and physical resources.  So I turn to budgetary allocations.  Notwithstanding limitations in the allocation of financial resources, the judicial system must be resolute in its task of upholding the rule of law and dispensing justice to all court users.  It has been the approach of the judiciary to seek assistance from local and international agencies where possible to assist in the financing of training initiatives, the introduction of innovations and the amelioration of equipment and court buildings.  In this regard, I pause to express copious gratitude to UNICEF, the National Committee for Families and Children, the United States State Department through the Embassy of the United States in Belize and the JURIST Project funded by Global Affairs Canada. For the fiscal year 2017/2018, of the national budget, the judiciary, inclusive of the magistracy, was allocated nine million, nine hundred and fifteen thousand, one hundred and ten dollars which represents approximately one percent of the national budget for the period 2017/2018.  This is a reduction of zero point zero six percent from the allocation for the fiscal year 2016/2017.  That fact was hardly a surprise given that I had foreshadowed in my last address that austerity was expected.  Judicial personnel – The judiciary began 2017 with a reduced compliment of judges in the criminal division and that state of affairs continued for the entire year.  That vacancy has now been addressed with the appointment of a justice of the Supreme Court in the person of Honorable Madam Justice Marilyn Williams.”

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