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Jul 7, 2021

Senate Focuses on Haiti, GG Salary and Benefits, Contingency Fund

Three new opposition Senators were sworn in during today’s Senate meeting. Additionally, a motion was passed to increase the salary of the Governor General by up to thirty thousand dollars. And the Senator for Government Business Eamon Courtenay called for peace in Haiti, following the assignation of its president. New Five’s Paul Lopez sat inside the National Assembly during today’s meeting. He filed the following report.


Paul Lopez, Reporting

Today’s Sitting of the Senate began with the swearing in of three new opposition Senators.


Darrell Bradley, U.D.P. Senator

“I, Darrell Bradley, do swear that I will bear true faith and allegiance to Belize.”


Shary Medina, U.D.P. Senator

I, Shary Medina, do swear that I will bear faith and allegiance to Belize an will uphold will uphold the constitution and the law.”


Ashton McKenzie, U.D.P. Senator

“I, Ashton McKenzie, do swear that I will bear true faith and allegiance to Belize, and will uphold the constitution and the law.”


Jovenel Moise

Both McKenzie and Medina were sworn in as temporary senators. Thereafter, Senator for Government Business, who is also Belize’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, rose to speak on the assassination of the President of Haiti, Jovenel Moise. The Government of Belize called for peace and safety in Haiti.


Eamon Courtenay, Senator for Government Business

“The situation in Haiti is particularly grim. Prior to his death there was a serious constitutional question as to the continuous legitimacy of President Moise and his authority to continue to govern Haiti. Indeed, he has for many months been governing by Presidential degree, having dissolved necessary organs of state. There is a question whether his actions were lawful.  There is widespread violence, wanton killing, gangs are running wild in Haiti and in fact there is a complete virtual break down of law and order in that republic, a member of the CARICOM family. We believe in Belize and in CARICOM that Haiti requires urgent attention. There is an urgent need for the restoration of law and order. There is an urgent need for elections to be held in Haiti.”


Eamon Courtenay

Haiti’s Congressional and Presidential elections have been scheduled for September and November. Following a moment of silence for President Moise, it was on to domestic issues. A motion was raised for the increase of the Governor General’s salary from fifty-four thousand dollars annually, to eighty five thousand dollars annually. A bill was also brought from the House to limit the GG’s tenure to seven years.


Eamon Courtenay

“The cost of living in 1989 when this law was passed has risen dramatically to where we are in 2021. Therefore, the purpose of this motion and the bill is to take account of what we experienced in Belize in terms of the cost-of-living increase.  We believe that whoever assumes that office and serves in that capacity should take office in comfort and need not worry, need not be concerned for their health while they serve and thereafter, that they will be taken care of by the state of Belize.”


Darrell Bradley

Darrell Bradley, U.D.P. Senator

“The difficulty that I do have in relation to the motion is the timing. And I think that recently a significant portion of our population have been called to bear sacrifices. We have had in this honorable house a passage of law to reduce the salaries of public officers and teachers by ten percent. We have a situation where a significant amount of the private sector are struggling.”


Osmany Salas

Osmany Salas, Senator for N.G.O.

“We agree with the government’s proposal and some of what Prime Minister Briceno has said in relation to our governor General. It has been long overdue. It has been long overdue.  And yes, I join my colleagues before me in congratulating and feeling incredibly grateful for the stellar service from our previous governor general, sir Colville Young. He deserved better than he got. He did deserve better than he got.”


Elena Smith

Senator Elena Smith, Senator for Trade Unions

“At this point in time what the current salary is, we believe, at this point in time, that the GG is able to live off of that, and that whatever increase is deserving, after we would have done job classification exercises, whatever it is that there needs to be done, to ensure the GG is properly compensated for the post that she hold, an the work that she must carry out.”


Finally, the Senate debated a bill to amend the Finance and Audit (Reform) Act to provide for the establishment of a contingency fund to be used for urgent and unforeseen expenditure.


Eamon Courtenay

“The financial secretary has told the Senate that no contingency fund has ever been created by the government and funded as required by the constitution. Therefore, when a hurricane hit, and there is a flood or other emergencies, the government has to go to existing budget lines and to withdraw money from there and bring a supplementary. What we seek to do is, in order to comply with constitutional mandate is to create the contingency fund which will then has a line in the budget, therefore when an emergency hits with is unforeseen, there will be funds already appropriated by parliament for that purpose, which can only be withdrawn by a warrant by the minister.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Paul Lopez.

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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