The University of Belize hosted the Belmopan Mayoral Candidates forum today. Plus News was there to cover the event. All three Belmopan Municipal Mayoral Candidates sat before an audience of University students this afternoon to address questions and concerns from students on various issues in the capital. The afternoon’s event started with the candidate’s introduction, which was followed with questions asked by University students on topics relating to the advancement of technology, business and economy in Belmopan, and youth development. Each candidate gracefully responded to their appropriate question. Before the floor was opened for a time period of questions and answers, each mayoral candidate selected a prewritten question to answer from their fellow candidates. When asked about Transparency and Accountability in order to address corruption, The PUP Mayoral Candidate Tanya Santos had this to say.
PUP Mayoral Candidate Tanya Santos
I stepped up to the plate because I despise corruption. I have seen how it damages families. I have seen how it damages communities and I know we need to be different and to do different. In the first instance a government cannot police itself. A local government cannot police itself. We will establish municipal Public Accounts Committee comprised of majority social partners and it won’t be PUP social partners or whosoever you think social partner it is. It needs to be independent social partners not because we don’t trust ourselves or we don’t know what to do but because we want to commit and show to the people that this is not business as usual. We are going to subject ourselves to be watched to make sure we walk the straight line.
Secondly, an important part of good governance is inclusion and participation. We will ensure that we have the participation of the community much stronger that they are much more involved.
The BPP Mayoral Candidate Charles Leslie was asked about his plans for full transparency and accountability of the City Council’s finances. Here is his response.
To answer the first part of the question the answer is no you’re either transparent or you’re not transparent you cannot be transparent 99.9 percent of the time you have to be transparent 100 percent of the time. You know how I know, because I did it and it works for everyone. My first order of business as the mayor of this city is very serious I will call a special public meeting and before that meeting I will do a full financial audit of the city council and audit every single department at that special public meeting I will make a presentation to the people the residents of Belmopan.
The UDP Mayoral Candidate Kalid Belisle was asked to identify the major issues in the capital and measures that can be implemented to address it.
Every home we visit, and 5 out of 10 visits to me at City Hall are concerning the issue of land availability. The truth is, and I’m privy to the information because I’m also the Vice Chair at RECONDEV, that all the public land in Belmopan, all the publicly available land has been subdivided and issued. The city is out of public lands at this point in time, there is no getting away from that fact. This is a fact that I made the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister aware of 3 or 4 months into my term of office. It means that we must now look at acquiring more land for city expansion such that deserving resident, hopefully first time land owners are issued, or have the ability to be issued a parcel of land of which to call their own.
Plus News had a chance to speak with each candidate after the dust had settled.
Tanya Santos Neal, Mayor Candidate:
I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the forum. I think it’s an excellent initiative. I wish we had more of those throughout the country this Municipal election cycle, because it’s where the issues come out, the concerns, and it’s an opportunity for the voters to hear what are the positions and decisions that the candidates tend to implement come March 7th.
Khalid Belisle, Mayor of Belmopan:
I’m glad to have been invited and glad to have participated. This is the kind of discussion that we need to have amongst ourselves for the advancement of our city and our country on a whole.
Municipal elections are set for next week Wednesday, March 7th.