Prime Minister Dean Barrow stated in an Interview two weeks ago that the Integrity Commission was on pause again. This time it could not be fully constituted because two of his appointees had resigned due to the widened definition of Publicly Exposed persons. He also shared that he needed to check back with the Leader of the Opposition in regards to the status of his two appointees. Here are those comments.
“In fact, I need to check with the leader of the Opposition. Before we went public, I indicated to him my difficulties and he said he would have to check with his two appointees as to whether they were prepared to stay. Nobody had taken account of the fact that these people are more likely than not, going to be deemed Politically Exposed Persons with the accompanying obligations. I have not heard back from him whether his people are prepared to stay. But in so far as to the replacement of the two from our side that have left, I have been too busy really to have conducted any search for replacements”.
This morning on the Rise and Shine Morning Show, Leader of the Opposition, Hon Francis Fonseca, was the guest. He was asked to comment on the PM’s remarks regarding the PUP appointees. According to Hon. Fonseca, the PUP appointees, Phillip Zuniga and Kevin Arthurs, are fully onboard and ready to carry out their duties as members of the Integrity Commission.
“I think that was an understanding on the part of the Prime Minister. What I said is that, if any problems arose, then, I would address that matter. But those people have been appointed, they are members of the commission and, they have no problems in serving, despite the new legislation that was passed. So, there is no need to discuss them any further. Where the problem lies is in respect of the finding two replacements in government side”.
Rise and Shine Host Louis Wade: “So, it’s in their lap; the ball is in their port and it continues to be that way?”
Leader of the Opposition: “Absolutely”.
At the last press conference, and in preparation for the upcoming 2014-2015 budget, Prime Minister Barrow announced an additional 10 million dollars for infrastructure works in Belize City. Hon. Fonseca was asked to comment on the way finances are being distributed for infrastructure works across the country. Were they distributed according to needs or by political expedience? Here is what he had to say about that.
Leader of the Opposition: “Belize City can get $30m, why can’t the government find some monies for these rural communities, and that is the sort rage that is building up in these communities across the country. They believe that it is political, regardless of what I believe. They believe that in many cases. Where they are living represented by the People’s United Party. They believe they are being victimized because of their political beliefs. It is very, very troubling. You know, these are growing communities. So, we are very, vey concerned of this inequity, unequal distribution of resources, and it is being done, in my view political based. It’s been tied into political conventions. All of a sudden, if you are having a convention as they had yesterday in Belize Rural Central, all of a sudden, you see activity in Belize Rural Central, and unelected people who are seeking are able to then call the Ministry of Works and get them out there when elected representatives have been unable to get any help.
Leader of the Opposition: “These are public monies. You are talking about the Ministry of Works being activated, scholarships being given to people on behalf of political aspirants; it is absolutely, in my view, reached a very disgraceful, low point in terms of almost no line separating the political party and the government, and that is very dangerous for us as a society”.
The leader of the Opposition also commented on the 2013 GDP growth figures for Belize, and the Economic Outlook.
Leader of the Opposition: “The lack of economic growth is critically important in our country, and that is a matter we will obviously be addressing very carefully and very closely during the Budget debate (0.7%) There is no plan and if you do not plan, you will fail. That is the reality of it; there is no economic development plan for this country. Where is your jobs plan? What is your jobs agenda. Where are the jobs going to come from? We are not talking on the jobs breaking stones on the streets. Those are jobs in every work; there is dignity in every work. So, we appreciate that work. But there are thousands of young people coming out of school who do not have an opportunity to work; there are no economic opportunities for them”.
In tomorrow’s newscast, we will air the Leader of the Opposition’s comments on Lord Neil B. Gibson as well as why there is the need for a re-registration.