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Sep 16, 1998

New ambassadors appointed for UN, U.K., Mexico and Cuba

Government continues to put its house in order and today announced a number of key appointments involving the foreign service, finance and education.

With so few Belizean embassies abroad there are not a whole lot of spoils to go around… but it appears that at least three of Belize’s five major diplomatic posts will be headed by new ambassadors. Salvador Figueroa, who handled Belize’s business in Guatemala in the previous P.U.P. administration, will become the new envoy to Mexico. Longtime political activist Assad Shoman will take over as High Commissioner in London, while Belize’s new ambassador to the United Nations will be none other than international businessman Michael Ashcroft. While Ashcroft is not expected to spend much time casting votes in the UN General Assembly, it is believed that he will use his considerable clout on Wall Street to attract the kind of serious investment that will be strongly felt on Albert Street. Ashcroft’s number two in New York is expected to be Channel Five talk show host Stuart Leslie, who will join the diplomatic service as first secretary at the UN mission. A new embassy will also be opened shortly in Havana, to be headed by Belize Times Editor Amalia Mai. Meanwhile, Belize’s two other embassies, in Washington and Guatemala, are expected to remain under the leadership of James Murphy and Mike Mena respectively.

In the Ministry of Finance Prime Minister Said Musa has appointed a committee to advise government on the touchy subject of tax reform. Minister Jose Coye will chair the group which includes accountants Doug Erskine and Julian Castillo, former public officers Sir Edney Cain and Telford Vernon, business people Marie Sharpe, Tony Chanona, John Crump, Sean Feinstein, Mark Lizarraga, Antonio Quan and Owen Codd, as well as four government representatives. While the committee will start with a clean slate and no preconditions, its main task appears to be to create a tax structure which guarantees fairness and adequate revenues, without mentioning the dreaded V-word. Theirs will not be a pleasant task and the committee members have our deepest sympathy. In other financial news Omar Sabido has been appointed acting comptroller of customs while Gregory Gibson and Everard Lopez have been made assistant comptrollers.

In education former permanent secretary Carlos Perdomo has been named coordinator of technical and vocational education, former Chief Education Officer Ernest Raymond will take over the Primary Education Development Project while his old job will go to Dr. Cecil Reneau, formerly principal at Belize Technical College.

Other appointments announced in today’s Cabinet press briefing include Jim Hyde to chair the Fisheries Advisory Board and Ray Fuller to lead a task force on government housing policy. One change that was not announced but has been confirmed is that Karl Menzies, the man originally named in a press release as chairman of B.E.L., will not in fact take that post. Instead it will go to Bobby Usher of the Northern Fishermen’s Coop. It appears that there was some miscommunication between the Prime Minister, Menzies and the Cabinet Secretary, but it has finally been straightened out, with no hard feelings. Karl H. continues to hold his existing seat on the board of B.E.L. as representative of the small shareholders. No word yet on the names of the other government appointees to the B.E.L. board.

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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