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Nov 5, 1998

Government propaganda arm dismantled

After the signing, the Prime Minister explained why he decided to endorse the declaration and also clarified some soon to be implemented policies which will affect the Belizean mass media.

Said Musa, Prime Minister

“I think it is simply a realization that this is what the people expect of us as a responsible government. I think any government moving into the twenty-first century has to recognize that a free press will exist whether the government likes it or not; that yes, it is perhaps at times a nuisance to politicians to have a very vigorous press, but it is a very essential part of our democracy. And it is a nuisance that we have to learn to live with.

Journalism is a very serious and honorable profession and I think once we come to that realization then we will begin to appreciate the need for us to work closely with it and to see it as an important institution of the democratic process.”

Q: “In the People’s United Party manifesto, in addition to saying that you would privatize the B.C.B., you also said that you would be abolishing the Belize Information Service. We haven’t heard much about that lately, what are your plans for B.I.S.?”

Said Musa

“B.I.S. in fact is now in the process of being disassembled; it is being abolished. There will no longer be a Belize Information Service. Quite frankly the B.I.S. had become totally discredited – not only was it just a propaganda arm of government, which is understandable, but had become a propaganda arm of the ruling party in government and that is not acceptable. I don’t think the people expect that and I don’t think it’s healthy for a democracy – for a party to be utilizing a government institution for its own party political broadcast and propaganda. We saw it happen over the last five years in the most blatant fashion. It is something that I would not want our government to fall into. It’s a trap that is very alluring, once it is there, very alluring for any government to want to utilize it.”

Musa explained that while B.I.S. will be eliminated as a department, a small press unit would be established within the Prime Minister’s office. In addition each ministry will designate a press officer to aggressively keep the public informed on developments in government policy.


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