This morning third party Vision Inspired by the People (VIP) hosted the press in Belize City to discuss a number of topics including and particularly the Petrocaribe Loans Act 2015. The VIP says that the current administration has taken a fateful step into the realm of tyranny by assuming powers and controls it does not have. Its arguments according to Patrick Rogers holds no water when one looks at the facts.
“They are telling Venezuela we di use the money fi good social programs and infrastructural programs but they are only benefiting 305 of our population. You don’t believe me, see how much people are in the Pantry Programme at Port Loyola… two thousand. Out of seven thousand registered voters but they only need to give two thousand people because every election Boots only needs two thousand people to vote. Every division is handled the same way. Only the number of voted they get, that’s the number or pantry issues wants that they issue or Christmas cheers that they are giving out. What I am saying is that we should call a spade a spade. These monies are being borrowed in all of our names. All of our pikni wah end up the pay back for deh ya thing, Why should only 30% of our population voting for the Government of the day be benefiting from these social programs. Send it through a development fund, don’t put it through the scrutiny of the National Assembly, ensure that monies that are being borrowed in all of our names are benefiting all of us.”
According to Rogers, the most egregious parts of the Act seek to legitimize retrospectively acts that even the Government apparently feels are inherently indefensible. It is those parts of the Act that the VIP wants repealed.
“How can it be so evil. Well, 4,5 and 6 needs to be repealed. Even if we stay with section 3 which gives them the right to give them that special fund, like they had done, in the Central bank. Keeping all the activities of that special fund away from the National Assembly. Even if they choose to do that option with their right. We will question their transparency and accountability stance by so doing, but they have a legal right to do it and we have to accept it based on our laws… but what we do not have to accept is that retrospectivity has to remain in our Constitution. It is a bad thing to having laws being done retrospectively. This is one instance where the government has …the legislation to prevent litigations against them. So we are saying, as of today, the V.I.P. desk is calling for solidarity with the N.T.U.C.B., with the Belize Chamber of Commerce, with the Council of Churches, all the social partners that claim they’re against this Bill…well noh just talk the talk, walk the walk – walk the walk because if we have to lead a charge inna dih streets, Mr. Prime Minister, that is what we’re going to do right now. At the end of it it’s an unjust law, and if the law is unjust the people of Belize have a right to resist it. We felt the need to come here today under the theme ‘A Time to Save the Country Before You Lose it’ to say to you Belize that we have progressed to tyranny here in Belize. ”
VIP says it is ready to take to the streets to force the Government to bend, but it did not have to be this way. Rogers cites the action of a fellow Petrocaribe agreement as an example of a different route.
“In Jamaica , project funds with Venezuelan oil have provided aid to small farmers and businesses, refurbished a zoo, replaced pit latrines with flushing toilets. In Grenada, discounted Venezuelan oil funds.. 405 of social programs from Text books and free lunches for children to paying for roads and buses. Jamaica in 2006 opted to go the route of the development fund. That is good governance that is in accordance to good governance practises. Using development fund to collect the proceeds of these monies and account for their disbursement through the estimates of revenues and expenditures on an annual bases.”
In other news from the VIP the organization is calling for the redistricting of electoral boundaries and re-registration of voters before the next general election is called. The idea may not be realistic but according to Paco Smith it is needed to correct a list bloated by deaths, disappearances and other suspect entries on the voter’s list.
That’s nothing new, but all the same it does not bode well with regards to good governance practices and principles. We all know that constitutionally the next elections should be called by 2017, and amid the current political situation that we face, well you never know. The Prime Minister has the ability to call elections whenever he so chooses. In keeping with that reality we are making this plea that a redistricting and re-registration process take place. I neglected to mention … to the credit of the Commissioner of the Elections and Boundaries commission, he did respond to our letter in short order and mentioned that the issue will be taken up at the next meeting of the commission, which incidentally takes place next week – I think it’s the 30th or April, so we will keep you inform so far as to what, if any decisions are made in regards to that.”
The current re-registration list goes back to the year 1997. Both governments have passed legislation pushing back re-registration for more than 10 years from the date in which it was constitutionally due. The last redistricting of boundaries which saw two new constituencies added in the Cayo District took place before the 2008 general election.