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Government and opposition debate over Economic Development Council

Posted: Saturday, July 1, 2017. 10:31 a.m. CST.

By BBN Staff: At yesterday’s Sitting of the House or Representatives, the last before it breaks for summer, members of the opposition People’s United Party (PUP) including party leader John Briceno and Cayo South area representative Julius Espat raised concern over the composition of government’s Economic Development Council (EDC).

Briceno and Espat argued that the legislation which formalizes the EDC is not inclusive enough of independent stakeholders, and that the current composition gives the Prime Minister too much influence over the council.

“…there are going to be ten members; of these ten members, five of them are going to be from the line ministries which he appoints as Prime Minister, so they are going to do what he wants; they are going to tell him what he wants to hear. He’s going to appoint five from the private sector: one from banking and finance; one from tourism; distribution services, agriculture and exports – but he is going to appoint them, he is going to pick them,” Espat said.

He suggested that the Prime Minister allow the Belize Business Bureau, the Belize Tourism Industry Association and other relevant organizations appoint their own members.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow, however, argued that the EDC, which has been a part of the PM’s office for the last few years, has introduced a number of important legislation and policies tabled and passed in the House.

“Not only has the EDC been in place, it has been working extremely well,” Barrow said, adding that the legislation was simply a way of formalizing the EDC’s role and that it would come at no extra cost to the Belizean public.

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