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Mar 27, 2018

Re-Registration Exercise, I.C.J. Campaign Take Significant Funding Cuts

Eamon Courtenay

Two significant events are on the horizon: on April fifteenth, Guatemalans head to the polls to vote on the I.C.J. question, and in July, re-registration of Belize’s voters is scheduled in advance of Belize’s own poll and the coming general election. Last year, when it was announced that re-registration would be postponed to this year, it was estimated that about twenty million dollars would be needed for the exercise. But according to Senator Eamon Courtenay, less than half of that – about eight million – has actually been budgeted. An even smaller amount has been set aside for the education campaign leading up to the I.C.J. referendum, something which Courtenay also decried.


Eamon Courtenay, P.U.P. Senator

“In approximately three weeks, Guatemala is going to hold its referendum on whether to submit the territorial dispute to the I.C.J. This government of the United Democratic Party has said that it intends to hold a referendum in Belize towards the end of 2018, at the latest the first quarter of 2019. It is acknowledged that there must be a massive education campaign to prepare Belizeans to make this defining decision. But Mr. President, lo and behold, on page two-thirty-two of the Budget book, forty thousand dollars is all that is being budgeted for the education campaign for the I.C.J. Are we serious? We on this side will not support any education campaign with a budget of forty thousand dollars, Mr. President; that must be a joke. We have a Joint Commission, Mr. President, established and re-energized between Belize and Guatemala, that is designed to advance and implement the Thirteen Agreements that were signed at the Placencia Summit; not a dollar is in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ budget to address that Commission. That brings me, Mr. President, to the re-registration exercise which must be conducted. The Government has committed to doing it; and if I recall, the Prime Minister put it off, he deferred it because it was going to cost twenty million. At page two hundred and thirty-eight of the Budget Book – eight million dollars is all that is budgeted for re-registration, Mr. President. We call on the government to ensure that adequate resources are made available for the re-registration exercise and that it be allocated fairly. Mr. President, these are issues – re-registration, I.C.J. education campaign – for which we have got to make sure that all resources required are made available; they are at the heart and foundation of our country.”

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