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Jan 7, 2021

Inaugural Meeting of the New House of Representatives is Nigh Upon Us

Marissa Longsworth

The inaugural sitting of the House of Representatives, led by Prime Minister John Briceño, is being held this Friday.  Several bills will be tabled for the first reading, including a proposed piece of legislation that will empower the Central Bank of Belize to provide for emergency programs and facilities.  This is in the context of unusual and necessary economic circumstances such as the COVID-19 pandemic.  Likewise, a General Revenue or Supplementary Appropriations Bill to cover urgent and unforeseen expenditure since the People’s United Party took office after November eleventh of last year will be tabled.  That is for a period that expires on March thirty-first, at the end of the current fiscal year. It is expected that the primary focus of the house meeting will be to address the economic situation that the country is grappling with as the Briceño administration inherited a virtually penniless government amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  Earlier today, we got a business perspective from the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry on the proposed laws that will be introduced, including an amendment that will allow judges to render decisions within a certain period of time.

 

Marissa Longsworth, President, B.C.C.I.

“One of the aspects that will be passed in the House on Friday that we find very important to that goal actually has to do with the constitutional change that requires judges to produce judgments within a certain amount of time.  If you remember rightly, the ease of doing business index which of course has its own controversy at this point in time but in concept is a good one, there is a measure for enforceability of contracts.  Whenever someone does business in a jurisdiction, they want to be certain that they are able to recover in case any dispute or legal matter comes about during their time in a country.  And so the fact that we had judgments of between two to eight years outstanding, from Supreme Court to Court of Appeal level was not a good look for Belize.  So I think that directly as it relates to the ease of doing business index and rankings, that sort of move would have a direct impact on how Belize is seen on the world stage to investors who are concerned about or considering bringing millions of dollars into the country and of course wanting to take millions of dollars out, not only in profit but if they dont profit, they want to be able to at least recover and be restored to their original position.  As it relates to your mention of the Supplementary Appropriations Bill and the Emergency Programs facility thats being requested, at this point in time the Chamber has had to take a position to say that you have to give a new person a chance to get themselves in place and I think that at this point in time we have seen and we’ve known from even before elections… our leaders and politicians are telling us as it is, that we bruk and we cyant afford certain things and we just need fi come to terms with that, you know.”


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