Posted: Monday, January 19, 2015. 11:21 am CST.
Monday, January 19, 2015. BMG: The Honorable the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture Mr. Gaspar Vega has introduced a Bill to parliament to amend the Belize Sugar Industry Act.
The amendment will bring the law into conformity with a Supreme Court order to give all cane farmers the freedom to belong to an association of their own choice.
The amendment will also facilitate the commencement of the grinding season and takes into account the legitimate interests of all stakeholders.
When the Deputy Prime Minister asked that the Bill be taken through all of it stages today, the Honorable the Leader of the Opposition and member for Freetown, Mr. Francis Fonseca rose to object strongly to the passing of the Bill at today’s Special Sitting of the House of Representatives.
Mr. Fonseca said that for a Bill like this, which affects a vital segment of the economy, more time ought to have been given to Opposition members to be able to review the document, consult with stakeholders and then be in a position to make proper representation.
“This is absolutely outrageous and disgraceful,” said the Leader of the Opposition.
He appealed to the Honorable the Prime Minister Mr. Dean Barrow to withdraw the Bill so that proper consultation and debate can take place.
But the Prime Minister in response to the appeal to him, rose to tell the House that the appeal is flatly rejected.
Prime Minister Barrow said that the Opposition knew well that “we have to pass this Bill today” in order the get the much-delayed sugar crop underway.
The Prime Minister told parliament that the delay of the sugar crop is because of what he called “machinations, bad mind and sabotage” by a number of people, “including the Leader of the Opposition” and so the “exigencies of the situation absolutely requires that we pass this Bill today.”
The Special Sitting of the House of Representatives has been suspended to allow the Public Service, Labour, Industry and Trade Committee to meet to consider the Bill before it returns to the floor of the House for debate and passage.
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