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Jan 11, 2021

G.O.B. Establishes the Public Contract Commission to Keep an Eye on Contractor General

Francis Fonseca

The Barrow administration had been heavily criticized for issuing tens of millions of dollars in public contracts, especially in infrastructure, to what the P.U.P. describes as known U.D.P. cronies. These contracts would go through the office of the Contractor General for approval, but the former Contractor General Godwin Arzu failed to submit yearly reports as dictated by the Contractor General Act. He was relieved of his duties after the Senate refused to appoint him for another term.  Omar Mitchell succeeded Arzu as Contractor General, but the post is seen as a politically appointed one.  So the Briceño Administration strongly believes that the Contractor General must answer to someone or some government unit.  According to Minister Francis Fonseca, the Public Contracts Bill seeks to create the Public Contract Commission, which will oversee the Contractor General’s works and duties.

 

Francis Fonseca, Minister of Education, Culture, Science and Technology

“The Contractor General of Belize is a sole appointee under the Contractor General Act Chapter six of the law of the Belize with no oversight from any other body. I believe that it is fair to say that the Belizean people regardless of which government is in office and who the office holder is, view this office that is the Contractor General office with a great degree of cynicism as simply a rubber stamp on executive decision regarding the award of public contracts. The bill before us proposes to establish a Public Contract Commission whose composition is design to create a great degree of independence and transparency. The Contractor General will act under the supervision and direction of the commission. Instead of vesting the power to award and investigate public contracts solely in one person this commission would be vested with these supervisory and investigatory powers.”


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