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Jan 22, 2014

Various bills tabled in House including the Occupational Safety and Health Bill

Dean Barrow

Now to the real business of the day in the House of Representatives. Various new bills were tabled for first reading and some came up for second reading. The Stake Bank Cruise Docking Facility Bill will enable the construction of the multimillion dollar tourism project at Stake Bank, undertaken by businessman, Mike Feinsten. The bill is for an Act to provide for certain exemptions of taxes and duties for a period of twenty years for the project which also includes the construction of a causeway which links it to Belize City. On introduction of the Bill, the Prime Minister said the exemptions are provided to projects of a similar nature. Other bills included the Companies Bill and a Bill to Repeal the Widows and Children’s Act. And there was another which was fast-tracked through its three stages in the House seeking approval for a U.S. five point three million dollar loan from Taiwan for the renovation of the House of Culture and in downtown Belize City. Then there was the anticipated Occupational Safety and Health Bill. At the last sitting of the House of Representatives, union executives stated a relatively mild protest to send the message that they want the OSH Bill on the table. It’s been a long time in coming, but today the matter was tabled for first reading. For the unions, that’s a major accomplishment, though the Prime Minister claims it’s more a matter of ‘be careful what you wish for.’ Barrow says that while it is a laudable bill, it will come at a high and perhaps unacceptable cost.

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“This bill, when perhaps if it is made law, is going to come at a huge financial cost. It is not an unmixed blessing; I want to be very careful with what I say. It is laudable, it is perhaps time and overtime that we make this quantum leap forward, but nobody must be under any illusions. There will be a tremendous burden and financial cost—not only to government, government as well—but to the private sector and to small individual employers; even that have one person operations to become compliant will cost a great deal of money. I will signal from now that the House committee that will have charge of this bill, will not just hold hearings in Belmopan; this will be somewhat a kin to the process we employ when we are doing constitutional amendments. They will go all around the country so that the citizenry can have their full say with respect to this bill because laudable though it is, when it becomes law and the financial costs bite, people will blame the government. The Chamber, who is part of the committee that I think agreed the draft, but as I understand it did not poll their members, will have a duty in the course of the public consultations to educate their members on the bill and ensure that we can have a proper informed debate during the course of these public consultations.”

 

Dylan Reneau

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

“We are glad for that as well because now everybody, all workers in this country, have a right to have their say in what goes into this bill. And so we are asking them to come out and be at the forefront for the passage of this bill. This bill is good for both workers and employers. And I think you have to take into consideration that the prime minister never mentioned the opportunity cost; the thousands of workers that have either been killed or injured on the job and the fact that they have been shoved aside as if though they are drones and worth nothing after that. This bill would give them some level of protection and ensure that that does not happen.”

 

Reporter

“But to hear the prime minister describe it….implementation of the OSH is fraught with problems and technical limitations, to hear him say it, is almost ill-advised to pass it at this time beucase of those practical impossibilities. How do you respond to that?”

 

Dylan Reneau

“The prime minister also said that we have to tone down our expectations. I dream high; I imagined all of these possibilities for years and certainly I will not be deterred by his statements and comments. We have to push this thing forward; it is very critical for our development. Workers and the issues that impact workers also impact this country. And if we can get some resolution to that then there will be development—human development—that is important for the development of a state. Not just to see big buildings and all of that, you want to see people having the type of livelihood that they can enjoy life.”

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1 Response for “Various bills tabled in House including the Occupational Safety and Health Bill”

  1. Rod says:

    These unions will end up killing this country they are in collusion with this gov. Unu take care a unu self you do not need to pay unions for you to get what you want and deserve get rid of these unions.

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