Posted: Saturday, April 30, 2022. 11:04 am CST.
By Aaron Humes: Opposition parties the United Democratic Party (UDP) and Belize Progressive Party (BPP) have condemned alleged abuse of power in the recent case of imports of plants listed as endangered and invasive under the CITES convention, and the Prime Minister’s claim that a forest officer was acting unprofessionally in not allowing the plans through.
A statement from Leader of the Opposition Moses “Shyne” Barrow makes clear that, in his view, most Belizeans agree that there was abuse from the Prime Minister’s own public admissions.
In view of the ruling party’s election pledge to reduce ministerial power, it is “an act of corruption” for the Prime Minister to make demands of a public officer, and worse, one that does not work in his Ministry, to facilitate an act against national law and regulation. “Belize is not a dictatorship; Belize is a democracy,” Barrow says.
Rather than the public officer be penalized for lack of professionalism, Barrow says, it is the Prime Minister’s actions that are unprofessional, and the decision to place the officer on administrative leave should be rescinded and he should instead be publicly honored.
The UDP supports the Public Service Union (PSU) in its planned investigation and defense of the officer in question.
Meanwhile, the Progressive Party writes that the intervention, though perhaps “well-intentioned,” breaches the unwritten wall between the Executive and Public Service, which answers ultimately to the Legislature. The BPP says that the Prime Minister and Cabinet are responsible for policy that the Public Service implements and nothing in the public regulations and administrative rules of government contemplate direct engagement by the Prime Minister with any public officials on matters of professional relevance.
The relevant organizations are asked to keep abreast of the situation and also bring up the CITES law, stating that we are obligated to follow the convention whether ratified or not and there are consequences for such non-compliance.
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