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Nov 4, 1998

Cabinet reviews NEMO operation

After thousands of temporary Belmopan residents returned to Belize City, the business of governing the country is back in full swing. The first item on the agenda for yesterday’s Cabinet meeting of course was a postmortem of the government’s emergency exercise. Full disclosure of the effort will be made by the release of the National Emergency Management Organization’s report from its various committees. To improve the overall plan in case we ever need to use it again, Senior Minister George Price will head a team to iron out the kinks in the NEMO plan and identify appropriate inland shelters. Priority will be given to restoring normal operations in schools used as shelters and assistance will be given for repairs. The D.F.C. will set up special loans for San Pedro and Caye Caulker to assist with rebuilding in time for the tourist season. A Central American relief fund will be established and rice and beans sent to Honduras to assist with food shortages.

And to help those of you who had to dip into your money for bills during the storm threat, Cabinet will ask all utility companies to give a three week extension for the payment of bills due in October.

In other government news, the Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Development and Budget Planning gave their report of a successful trip to Taiwan. Belize’s current debts to Belize will be restructured and a hundred million dollars will be made available for a housing project. A team from Taiwan will arrive in Belize in December to assess the Libertad Sugar Factory, which will receive technical and material assistance so that it may be reopened. Financial commitments from Taiwan for the Southern Highway and small business loans were also confirmed during the visit.

In the Ministry of Local Government, Cabinet examined the draft of the Belize City Council Amendment Bill to be tabled at the next meeting of the House of Representatives. The bill gives more autonomy to the City Council by removing certain powers now in the hands of the Minister. For example the Minister will no longer have the power to dissolve the council or decide if a member has forfeited a seat. The Mayor will also be elected by the people. Under the Attorney General’s ministry, Cabinet decided to repeal a statutory instrument of 1994 which categorized virtually all government departments as essential services to exclude their right to strike. The office of the Prime Minister says this will return to the original position which includes only truly essential services.


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