Posted: Saturday, October 1, 2016. 8:26 a.m. CST
By BBN Staff: The Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) issued a release yesterday outlining their support for BNTU’s issues of Governance.
The release states that the BCCI through its senate representative was advised to support a motion calling for full and equal representation on the Senate Inquiry of all five parties now represented within the Senate.
They explained that the motion contained provisions within its terms of reference designed to thoroughly investigate the contents of the Auditor General’s Special Audit into the Immigration Department to identify deficiencies where they may exist and to ensure that our national identity is secured beyond the reach of corruption.
“However, that motion was never presented since the churches’ representative presented a motion supported by the ruling party Senators and the Church-GOB supported motion unexpectedly pre-empted the motion supported by the senators from HMO, the Unions, and the business community. The BCCI regards the inquiry into the contents and circumstances surrounding the Special Audit as critical to the national interest and therefore prevailing above any partisan priorities. We will review our options in light of the terms and composition of the Special Select Committee further to the motion passed today. A thorough investigation is necessary, and any special select committee which is shackled by terms such as those in the motion passed today or with the limitations indicated by the terms of reference is unacceptable, and extremely concerning. Our national patrimony is important to all Belizean citizens, regardless of party affiliation, and as such, requires our strongest vigilance and involvement in its protection,” the Chamber said.
The BCCI executive council met with the president and some members of the BNTU yesterday evening to discuss the issues raised by the BNTU in their negotiations with the Government of Belize.
In that meeting, the Chamber re-iterated its support for the BNTU on several bases.
The release mentions that the BCCI is in strong support of Government’s implementation of cost-saving measures to reduce strain on the revenue, though it does not support retrenchment on the basis that the private sector which is under severe strain cannot create the number of jobs required to employ individuals caught up in a mass unemployment situation, nor can the economy generally support the strain created by a massive increase in unemployment.
The BCCI also supports stronger efforts to capture revenue being lost through tax evasion, but will not support any measure that results in overall tax increases under the current economic circumstances.
They expressed their support for the activation of the Integrity Commission, the restructuring of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), the appointment of the 13th Senator and the signing of the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC).
In their release, the BCCI says that they have agreed to suggest some possible nominees who may be willing to serve in the Integrity Commission. However, the overall purpose of the Commission is too important to be delayed much longer on this premise only. Any obstacles to its activation must be tackled as a matter of urgency.
On the UNCAC, the BCCI expressed that they are participating in a joint working group and will work with the government to ensure that the Convention is not just signed, but also fully activated to address and criminalize corruption throughout the public and private sectors for the benefit of our country’s development.
They reiterated their call for the restructuring of the Public Accounts committee and the signing of the commencement order to enact the law that will allow for the 13th Senator to finally be appointed.
In relation to the OSH Bill, the BCCI reiterated in detail that the Bill in its current form would have a severe impact on employers, inclusive of small enterprises, and would therefore jeopardize jobs and income generation in general. This cannot be the desired outcome for those representing either employers or employees, the Chamber said.
The BCCI advised the BNTU that it had on July 7th initiated contact with the NTUCB to develop an OSH Bill that would protect workers and enhance workplace safety without causing undue financial and administrative strain on employers.
The release ends by stating that the BCCI assured BNTU that it stands ready to continue that effort in good faith and at the earliest opportunity.
As a result of their discussions, both parties agreed that the BCCI would share with the NTUCB its revisions to the bill and committed to work on a way forward that was acceptable to both parties.
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