By BBN Staff: The Belize Network of NGO’s (BNN) issued a statement today calling on the Government of Belize to take all steps to immediately introduce campaign finance legislation to set out transparency and parameters on how funds are provided to political parties and candidates vying for public office.
“We believe the new campaign finance laws should include limits on the size of contributions to political parties and political candidates, require that all campaign contributions be declared, that spending in elections be regulated, and that election expenses be made publicly available and subject to limits for candidates and registered political parties, among other provisions, ” the network noted.
Furthermore, the group urged the Government to introduce such campaign finance legislation before the passage of the budget for the new fiscal year.
The BNN says that it has closely followed the developments that have taken place over the past few days in relation to the Salt Lake City, Utah, trial of accused fraudster Lev Dermen.
Evidence from the Utah trial, supported by text messages produced as evidence, have reportedly incriminated a senior Minister of Government, John Saldivar.
The BNN notes that Saldivar has resigned as Party Leader-Elect of the United Democratic Party and that Prime Minister Dean Barrow has “indefinitely suspended” him from his duties as Minister of National Security.
However, the network demands to know if that means that Saldivar remains as the substantive Minister of that portfolio, and if he is still receiving full salary and benefits afforded to that post from taxpayer funds.
The network urged Prime Minister Dean Barrow to remove Saldivar from Cabinet and order that the Financial Intelligence Unit immediately investigate all the allegations involving Saldivar and any other politicians who have been implicated in the receipt of Dermen funds.
Unregulated and unsanctioned campaign contributions threaten our national interest. Such contributions influence Belize’s local politics, damage our international reputation, and threaten our economic stability. The BNN asserts that the time is now to establish a system to regulate campaign contributions.