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May 5, 2022

Minister Says Forestry Officer Was Suspended for Nasty Attitude

Orlando Habet

There are differing views on the recent suspension of Forestry Officer Daniel Chi, as well as the sequence of events that led to his suspension. Two weeks ago, Prime Minister John Briceño told the media that Chi was rude to him when he called the officer to facilitate a plant importer who had a BAHA permit, to bring in her products. Chi resisted the request, based on his detection of plants that he said posed potential dangers to other plant varieties in Belize. Today, the minister who holds the portfolio that governs the Forest Department, Orlando Habet said Chi was suspended not for raising the concern he had over the importer’s plants, but for the way he treated the Prime Minister.

 

Orlando Habet, Minister of Sustainable Development, Climate Change & Disaster Risk Management

“There is a chain of authority, right. I think that the interpretation here is that the Prime Minister made a call to ask for facilitation, right. So, we believe that if I call and I say, “Listen, can you assist this person with a certain product that’s coming in?” And the officer says, “Well, sure, let’s see how we can help. Do you want us to fast-track it, or what is it that you want me to help with?” I don’t know if the Prime Minister said “Bring it in or just leave it to come in.” I really don’t know what the conversation was so it’s a judgment call between himself and possibly whatever the Prime Minister said, but my interpretation also is that he really disrespected the Prime Minister. If that is so, then I don’t deal with it. It’s from the administrative side. Anybody can call to get assistance and I was saying just now on the other media that sometimes it’s just facilitation is trying to speed up the process.”


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