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Nov 16, 2020

P.U.P. Area Representatives Sworn In as Cabinet Ministers

Last Thursday, P.U.P. leader John Briceño took the oath to lead this country as Prime Minister.   Today, his ministers and ministers of state headed to the Biltmore to be sworn in to begin the work of government. Seventeen ministers, the attorney general and seven ministers of state arrived at the appointed time; the event was flawless and was followed by a cabinet meeting to determine weighty matters.  The portfolios are wide and varied, including first time ministries such as the Blue Economy, Constitutional and Political Reform, New Growth Industries and Wellness.  News Five’s Hipolito Novelo was stationed at the Biltmore and has the following report.


Hipolito Novelo, Reporting

Prime Minister John Briceño’s cabinet ministers arrived one after the other, with their entourage at the Biltmore Hotel in Belize City to be sworn in as the People’s United Party transitions into government. With COVID-19 measures in place each minister and their guest had to take their temperatures and sanitize their hands just as the Attorney General Magali Marin-Young and the PM’s Chief of Staff and Cabinet Secretary, Stuart Leslie, did.

And from there they made their way to the second floor, where the Governor General, Sir Colville Young was waiting to swear them in.  The first was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Natural Resources, Petroleum and Mining, Cordel Hyde. Hyde will now be responsible of the hot bed of corruption, which is the Lands Department.


Cordel Hyde

Cordel Hyde, Deputy Prime Minister

“It is a gigantic task. A lot our people do not have land. A lot of our people have been condemned to poverty in the last few generations and that is what we are trying to reverse now. We are honored and humbled.”


Hipolito Novelo

“The Lands Department is hot bed of corruption, so said the former Prime Minister and so said you during the debates in the House. How would you ensure that that doesn’t continue under your ministry?”


Cordel Hyde

“That is where full commitment to the people of Belize, to make sure that the Lands Department makes sure it works to the people of Belize.”


…and the people of Belize want immediate change; that’s the reason they came out in record numbers in favour of the P.U.P.  The public’s focus will be on the government and its new response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Minister of Health and Wellness, Michel Chebat says that a complete change of strategy must be implemented.


Michel Chebat

Michel Chebat, Minister of Health and Wellness

“We are not happy with the approach that was taken in the past and we think it needs to be looked at and we think that we need to come up with a new policy and a approach to this COVID. Obviously from the upsurge in numbers, the past policy did not work.”


Hipolito Novelo

“So we are looking at stricter measures?”


Michel Chebat

“Well, everything is on the table at this moment.”


And at this moment the economy continues to suffer as it struggles to bounce back. It will be the job of the Prime Minister and Minister Kareem Musa who is in charge of New Growth Industries and Andres Perez, the Minister of Blue Economy to make this happen.


Kareem Musa

Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs and New Growth Industries

“New growth industries are any type of industries where you have a boom, there is expansion and development in a particular industry. In years gone by it has been fish farming, shrimp farming and that type of industry that is new to Belize. I look forward to the challenge. As you know throughout the world the first world countries have been taking advantage of the hemp industry and so that is one of those new growth industries that we look to explore the possibilities and certainly to create the proper structure and legislation in place to government this type of industry.”


Andre Perez

Andre Perez, Minister of Blue Economy and Civil Aviation

“The new kid on the block is the Blue Economy and I am certainly excited to serve in there.  It entails all the marine reserves, fisheries, eco-tourism, how do we harness power., maintain the environment sound but at the same time sustainable growth that we find that equilibrium with preserving the environment but at the same time growth must come economically as well. I think everything is brand new. It is important that we build a strong foundation for years to come  what is the Ministry of the Blue Economy.”


…from the Blue Economy to Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise. That ministry is the responsibility of Jose Mai. He too is looking at generating growth and development in the economy. Mai says this can be done if we cut the food import bill by half.


Jose Mai

Jose Mai, Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise

“In Belize, we must export more and import less. We must produce what we consume and we must consume what we produce.”


Hipolito Novelo

“Are we able to produce, vegetables produce at that magnitude, the one that country needs without importing from Mexico or Guatemala or other countries?”


Jose Mai

“We may not be able to do everything but we can definitely reduce the amount of imports. We import about two hundred million dollars of food stuff. I am saying, we are saying, that we can do up to a hundred million. So we can cut the food import bill by half. Of course over a period and that is what we want to do and that is our goal.”


Anthony Mahler’s goal is to bring back tourists. He is the Minister of Tourism and Diaspora Relations.


Anthony Mahler

Anthony Mahler, Minister of Tourism and Diaspora Relations

“How do we get back to some level of normalcy, growth in the industry. How do we get heads in beds? How do we get some people in the airlines coming to Belize. From my discussions with some people from the industry they see some signs already but it is going to take a while. We have to restructurer, reorganize, recalibrate and refocus so whenever it returns we can prepare at the highest level.”


But the challenge that this government will have to overcome to prove itself is daunting. Belize is being affected not only by COVID-19 but also by Hurricane flood waters. Minister of Minister of Sustainable Development, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management Orlando Habet is keeping an eye on Hurricane Iota.


Orlando Habet

Orlando Habet, Minister of Sustainable Development, Climate Change & Disaster Risk Management

“At least the south might be affected with some heavy rainfall. Right now they are thinking somewhere between eight to sixteen inches of rain to the south. So our people will have to be activated. As a matter of fact I had called on Major and he has his team already activated and they are looking out at what response is needed at that department.” 


Each and every government department has been financially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, limiting public officers in effectively carrying out their duties. Henry Charles Usher is first time area representative. He is now the Minister of Public Service, Constitutional and Political Reform. He says reform in the public service is key in the P.U.P. achieving its goal.


Henry Charles Usher

Henry Charles Usher, Minister of Public Service, Constitutional and Political Reform

“We all know that reform is needed throughout the public service and really if want to get or if the party or the government wants to get any of our PlanBelize agenda items done we need to have reform. I am happy that the Prime Minister has the fate in me to have given me this portfolio including the Constitutional and Political Reform portfolios because it is something that I believe it. And we need to make sure that we put in place the right reforms, the right measures so our systems work on behalf of the people.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Hipolito Novelo.

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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