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Apr 25, 2022

PM Clarifies Intervention on Forestry License

John Briceño

While the media spoke with the prime minister, he clarified a report that he had placed pressure on forestry officers at the northern border to desist from enforcing international CITES standards on a florist who sought ministerial intervention. This was how the PM explained the incident.


Prime Minister John Briceño

“I was called by the Minister of Agriculture very frustrated. He was saying that Ms. Chan – I don’t know Ms. Chan – is a young entrepreneur trying her very best to start her own business and has done everything possible to be able to import the plants to Belize. She had a previous problem a few weeks ago, when she had all her permits and everything in place and then she was being stopped at the border, given problems at the border and could not bring in her plants. And again, Minister Mai called me as the minister responsible to ask me if I could please ask the people at the Customs Department to please process that permit or that order because if it stays on the other side, it is going to spoil. They’re going to die. So, again I had to call and ask and the woman had done everything and nothing happened. And, Minister Mai called me again very frustrated and said the same person is having the very same problem and aid that now BAHA had approved and they have approved and that everything was in place. I think he even said that Forestry had approved a permit for them to bring in these plants and now that there’s a staff member from the Forestry Department that was now attempting to take away these plants – I was in the middle of a meeting, I quickly called – I know the mother-in-law so I asked if I could speak to the officer in charge. And the officer in charge was very rude the way he behaved and said only his boss can call him. I said I’m asking you as Prime Minister to please allow them to come in and then we can deal with the facts afterwards since it was already here. He did not cite anything about CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) by the way.


One of the biggest problems that we have in government and the Forestry Department is not the only one, all of the other departments and sometimes they drag their feet – the problems with D.O.E., Geology, with Lands and you have people that want to provide a service to our citizens. You have people who invest a lot of money, small businesses like this individual like Ms. Chan who is putting a life saving to try to get a permit to try to open a business and when we drag our feet we create serious problems. Yes, I called and that person was very rude and set down the phone on me. I’m certain he would not dare do that to Dean Barrow back then. But he did it and I’m going to speak with the Minister about that. But more importantly, our public officers previously were referred to as public servants because they are here to serve our citizens and there are many instances when I find members of our government drag their feet. And there are instances – and I’m not suggesting in this case – but there are instances when they drag their feet because they want to be compensated for the work that the Belizean citizens are already paying for.”

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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