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Apr 28, 2022

Forestry Officer Suspended for Hanging up on PM; BAHA Employee under Investigation

Jose Abelardo Mai

A forestry officer remains on suspension tonight, after hanging up on Prime Minister John Briceño. The PM, who holds the highest office in the country, was inquiring about concerns being raised by a woman who was importing plants that were stuck at the border for days and had not been cleared, even though she was in possession of the requisite phytosanitary permits from the Belize Agricultural Health Authority.  The Public Service Union is defending the actions of the public officer. But as the media found out from Agriculture Minister today, the action of the public officer was uncalled for. He confirmed that at least one BAHA employee is facing disciplinary charges. Minister Mai recounts what led to the suspension of the public officer. 


Jose Abelardo Mai, Minister of Agriculture, Food Security & Enterprise

“There is reason to believe that he acted wrongly and so we cannot say that we will discipline somebody without an investigation. It has to be done. There is due course that has to be followed. BAHA has its disciplinary procedures and they will look into it.”



“We know that the forestry officer has been suspended on administratively leave for five days for supposedly acting wrongly in the eyes of his superior. What do you have to say about this? These people are trying to carry out their lawful duties as best as they know how and you and the Prime Minister are in their ears saying no, you do what I say and not what the regulations are – it is very high-handed.”


Jose Abelardo Mai

“No, no. the difference here is doing your job properly. Let me tell you something. I had to get involved because BAHA is under my ministry. When I spoke to the Plant Health Director, the acting, I asked him what is the reason, what’s going on. He said minister, that lady on the plants have a BAHA permit to come in. Is she okay with BAHA? Yes, she is okay to come in. So why is it that your officer on the ground is not allowing it to come in? This was seven the night already; the plants had been two days in the sun. And I understand that someone had said before lock it up; tomorrow we will deal with it at ten o’clock in the morning. That cannot be the case when you have plants, not even animals.”

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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