Posted: Saturday, January 9, 2021. 5:25 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: While it was not wholesale rejected due to the Government’s sizable majority in the House of Representatives, Prime Minister John Briceno said he wants the good governance platform of his government to be a bipartisan effort with the Opposition United Democratic Party.
But Leader of the Opposition Patrick Faber said he wants to see the substance, the legislation to be brought by the Government, especially considering the appointments made so far by the Government to various statutory boards and among the Executive that appear to reward friends and allies of the People’s United Party that stuck with them during 12 long years in the political wilderness.
On the first subject, the P.M. told reporters in a sidebar during the House meeting, “…here we are setting a motion that is putting on record in the National Assembly, laying out what is our plan when it comes to good governance and accountability and transparency in government, and I am disappointed that they decided that they are going to criticize instead of support, and say, Let’s work together to see how we can do this. How can we limit the powers of the Ministers? How is it that we can strengthen the Integrity Commission, the Elections and Boundaries Commission? All of these positions that we have, how can we fix it?”
The Prime Minister said that it would still be open to the Opposition to join in, but if they won’t then the Government will proceed.
Earlier, the P.M. echoed his Minister of Infrastructure Development and Housing, Julius Espat, when he said that criminal charges are the only way to stop the kind of behaviour revealed this week.
“But it’s not for us to decide. What we have been doing, quietly, is getting the evidence. Once we have the evidence, then we are going to pass it on to the Police and the DPP – they are the ones that decide whether you have enough evidence to charge; it’s not us the political directorate,” Briceno added, recalling the arrests of former Prime Minister Said Musa and former Minister of Finance Ralph Fonseca in the first term of Prime Minister Dean Barrow for alleged theft of $20 million donated by Venezuela ostensibly for payment of a Belize Bank loan for the former Universal Health Services, now Belize HealthCare Partners Limited, which still has not been paid and was diverted to housing projects. The charges failed to stick in court as well.
And as to those statutory board appointments, Briceno said they aim to get the best minds together, focusing on work experience and knowledge of the respective organizations and industries, with a mandate to get the boards to work.
“No offense to the former Senator Juliet Thimbriel; [they] had her on all of the big boards; we have no such person like that. We have put people that are qualified, that have experience and success in business and different industries to be able to be on those boards,” Briceno said.
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