By Patrick E. Jones [607-6777] – The House of Representatives met in a Special Session this morning in Belmopan.
One of the highlights of the meeting was the presentation of the Bill for an amendment to the Criminal Code to clearly define sexual offences for its second and third readings.
The proposed changes will increase penalties for those convicted of sexual offences and provide equal protection for boys and girls.
The Bill had unanimous support from both sides of the House of Representatives and now goes to the upper house of Parliament, the Senate next week for consideration.
If approved by the Senate, the Bill will then go to Governor General, Sir Coville Young for his signature at which time it becomes law.
Also during today’s House Meeting, Prime Minister Dean Barrow announced that the National Bank of Belize will be increasing the mortgage ceiling from BZ$100,000 to BZ$175,000.
The Prime Minister said that this decision was made in an effort to attract individuals in a higher income bracket.
Prime Minister Barrow also made a statement on the Christmas Cheer program in response to what he called “hypocritical criticisms” from certain quarters.
The PM told the lower house of Parliament that no cash payments will be made to any politician under the government’s Christmas Cheer program.
The Prime Minister announced that he is positive that the program is greatly appreciated by the people of Belize.
During his presentation during the Statement by Ministers segment, Prime Minister Barrow also told the House of Representatives that the Honorable members of the Opposition People’s United Party (PUP) are pocketing funds they are receiving from government to set up and furnish constituency offices.
The PM announced that come 2014, his government will move to make members of the Opposition accountable for money they receive to serve their constituents.
When it came to the introduction of a Bill to amend the Insurance Act, Prime Minister Barrow asked the House to consider taking the Bill through all of it stages at today’s sitting.
But the Honorable the Leader of the Opposition Mr. Francis Fonseca raised strong objections, which caused the Rt. Honorable the Prime Minister to withdraw his request that the Insurance Act amendment Bill be taken through all of its stages today.
In rising to make his objection, the Honorable Francis Fonseca told the House that he only got a copy of the Bill late Wednesday and since there are important amendments being proposed too widen the discretion of the Supervisor of Insurance, then there should be consultation.
The Prime Minister, in response, rose to say that he yields to the objection and will not take the Bill through its three readings today and will come back to the House early in 2014 for the second and third readings.
The Prime Minister did warn that if Belize does not move quickly to put the banking system on good footing that the entire banking system could collapse.
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