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Apr 28, 2020

An Unusual House Meeting on S.O.E.

The focus on the House meeting on Monday was related to the state of emergency which will continue for another two months. But the House heard that in the first thirty days, families across the land endured hardships due to the CVID. Both Cordel Hyde and Julius Espat spoke on the plight of families. Here is News Five’s Isani Cayetano with a report.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

A sixty-day extension for the state of emergency comes into force on May first, with the motion being tabled during a special sitting of parliament on Monday morning.  The meeting of the House of Representatives was rather unusual, as the floor was reduced to a total of seven elected officials.  Gone were supporters of both political parties who, up until then, had remained fixtures in the galleries.  The order of the day was the introduction of a single motion.


Dean Barrow

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“Madame Speaker, I move whereas Section 18-2 of the Belize Constitution provides that the Governor General may, by proclamation, be published in the gazette declare that the state of public emergency exists for the purposes of part two of the constitution and whereas Section 18-3 of the Belize Constitution provides that in order to have effect the proclamation must contain a declaration by the Governor General that he is satisfied that a public emergency has arisen as a result of the outbreak of inter alia that infectious disease.”


And that highly contagious disease is the new coronavirus 2019, which, despite relatively low numbers of infection in Belize, continues to wreak havoc on the local economy.  The motion to extend the SOE, however, was met with resistance by the Opposition who maintains that relief during the present state of emergency was slow to come making an additional sixty days extremely difficult for most households.


Cordel Hyde

Cordel Hyde, Area Representative, Lake Independence

“Lotta people had a rough Easter, you know because da money tek wahn while fu reach, even fi di twenty-eight thousand.  In fact, going into Easter nobody noh get it, dehn just get di good word that it was approved.  Man, even though wih cyant go nowhere, wih cyant go da Placencia, Chetumal, Caye Caulker, Easter wired eena wih.  So fi da four or five days wih wahn eat wih cross bun, wih wahn eat wahn good Easter Sunday dinner, wih wahn feel like we, but da money noh reach, Madame Speaker.  I couldn’t believe di money noh wahn reach.”


In identifying the challenges that residents in the rural communities continue to face, Cayo South Area Representative Julius Espat pointed to the hardships of his constituents getting food to their respective villages.


Julius Espat

Julius Espat, Area Representative, Cayo South

“The poor rural residents are trying their best but it is not enough, the food is not reaching and if I am complaining and our villages are close to Belmopan, imagine… Some of them are farmers, not all of them are farmers, but yoh sih how dehn think, villagers da farmers soh noh worry bout dehn.  Now yes, we have an advantage, that the rural people are proud people and for the longest, from history, they have had the knowledge, the common sense and the opportunity to be able to feed themselves.  So that’s a great advantage during this crisis.  The second advantage is that we are not living as close to each other as maybe the residents of the of urban areas.”


PM Barrow, in wrapping up the meeting, explained that there is no need for citizens to become frantic over another SOE coming into effect.


Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“Madame Speaker, the member for Lake-I was absolutely right when he said that people should not cringe at the thought of a further lockdown.  No, they should not, because the continuation of the state of emergency for two months does not mean that they will necessarily be locked down for two months.  Two things, the constitution makes clear and the recital, part of the recitals to the motion, makes clear that you can come back to parliament at any time and by way of a simple resolution you can bring an end to the state of emergency.  But more than that, the state of emergency, the extension of the state of emergency, the original proclamation by the Governor General, these things are  enabling measures.  The proclamation enables a state of emergency but what is critical is the regulations passed under the state of emergency.”


Those regulations will be spelled out on Thursday during another episode of Ask the Experts. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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