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House wraps up budget debate, turns down diaspora bill

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Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2019. 7:30 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: It happened while most of us were sleeping late on Tuesday night, but the General Revenue and Appropriation Bill was passed and will be debated today by the Senate.

But before that, Caribbean Shores area representative Kareem Musa took up the cause of Belizeans living abroad who want to vote in the upcoming ICJ referendum despite standing requirements including that they must live here for at least two months before registering.

 Musa introduced a private member’s bill under Standing Order 83 of the House of Representatives to “amend the Representation of the People’s Act, Chapter Nine of Substantive Laws of Belize, Revised Edition 2011 to provide the right to vote and register as electors in the Belize/Guatemala referendum to citizens of Belize living abroad, notwithstanding the failure to satisfy the two-month continuous residence requirement and to provide for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.”

But Prime Minister Dean Barrow condemned the bill as “out of order.  It is an abuse of process because the objectives that, according to the honorable member, the petitioner, the objectives that the bill is designed to achieve cannot happen, not on the basis of things as they are and we must proceed on that basis.  So what is the purpose of this Madame Speaker?”

On the division of the House, the ayes had it in favor of not allowing the bill to proceed.

Following an exhaustive two days of debate, Prime Minister Barrow closed off the around eleven p.m.  After responding to the criticisms from the Opposition, the PM continued to tout the budget, lauding government’s track record for improving the economy and the spending on infrastructure works.  In wrapping up, the PM focused heavily on the primary sector, making note of increases in both primary exports and basic goods such as corn, rice, red kidney beans, poultry, milk, eggs and pigs dating back to 2008.

 In that area, said Barrow, “the overall picture shows that this administration has delivered far superior results in every economic, fiscal and monetary metric.”

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