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Nov 5, 2013

N.T.U.C.B. says it will support a senate led investigation

Dean Barrow

A meeting of government’s social partners, including the National Trade Union Congress of Belize, the Council of Churches, as well as the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry was held this afternoon in Belize City, where a range of current issues were discussed.  Chief among the many topics was the composition of the Public Accounts Committee, which is being led by Minister John Saldivar in the absence of Chairman Julius Espat.  Saldivar tabled a proposal which includes the structure of the PAC.  Those recommendations were also reviewed today, along with the much delayed appointment of a thirteenth senator.  Despite the selection of Greg Ch’oc by the N.G.O. community to represent them in the upper house, News Five understands that the proposed legislation to allow for a thirteenth senator simply requires the signature of the prime minister prior to the Governor General’s assent.  But at Wednesday’s senate meeting, the focus will be on a motion for a senate-led inquiry into the recent immigration and passport scandals.  While the government has since formed a Nationality Scrutinizing Committee, it has disallowed members of that working group from vetoing decisions taken by the Minister of Immigration, as it concerns the approval of nationalities.  According to P.M. Barrow, the power of the executive cannot be taken away.  The N.T.U.C.B., on the other hand, says it refuses to be a part of that arrangement since it can very well result in the minister acting independently of the committee and that it will support the a senate-led investigation.

 

Dean Barrow

“After consultation with each of them I’ve said if they make recommendations we would accept those recommendations but I think the ship has sailed in terms of actually giving them the absolute authority to a point.  I really believe that they were wrong in making the sorts of demands they did as to veto power and as to ultimate authority.  You can’t take away from the executive what the constitution and what the electorate have both given to the executive but since the idea is to make this thing work rather than be concerned about sentiment and optics, if we get three good persons and true; either as a consequence of their recommendation or as a consequence of wider consultation that will cause the structure to work and effectiveness is what we’re looking at.  So I don’t think there’s any chance that we won’t achieve what we are seeking to do.”

 

Dylan Reneau

Dylan Reneau, President, N.T.U.C.B.

“We are going to support the calling of the senate for that senate select investigation.  We had a discussion on it and we’ve galvanized our position because we don’t believe that we’ll get the level of reporting to the nation from these investigations, except for the auditor general because she would have to send a report up to the house.  So we are going to support that.  The other aspect is this National Scrutinizing Committee, our participation isn’t based on whether we get the information, it’s based on what is going to be the thrust of this committee and one of the stumbling block right now, when we met with the minister he told us categorically and point blank that we cannot corral a minister.  So the point was made that even though we have this National Scrutinizing Committee, if they make a recommendation to, let’s say, agree that William will be a citizen of Belize and it goes up to the minister and the minister says, I noh agree with that, William noh wahn be no citizen, he cannot sign.  Or it can be the inverse where we agree that William is not going to be because William has this record or something else and the minister can decide well, I want William to be a citizen of Belize so I can sign and that way he is legitimized as a citizen.  Now we are saying that we don’t believe that we want to be a part of that situation because that could lead to that same corrupt situation that we currently have.  Well the minister said that there are certain safeguards in that the certificate has three signatories, one for the director, one for the minister and one for a representative from this scrutinizing committee.  But the reality is that that spawns some even further discussion because the scrutinizing committee has four government representatives and the three social partners.  Will decisions be made by the majority?  If it’s majority then four over three.  Who will sign the certificate, will it be somebody from the government or one of the social partners?”

 

The issues raised in today’s meeting will also be discussed during the senate meeting on Wednesday.

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