As the dust settles from Thursday’s press conference, reaction from the public begins to mount. On Friday, Vision Inspired by the People made their sentiments public. The VIP says it is “Utterly disappointed in the government’s handling of the current immigration scandal. We believe that the government press conference held 10th October, failed to address the salient demands of the Unions, the other Social partners and the VIP on the matter.” On Friday afternoon, we spoke with Public Relations Officer Bobby Lopez following a meeting of the VIP Executive.
“What he proposed yesterday, it was a true disappointment. He never addressed the need for him to fully support a thorough forensic audit and investigation on what took place, because we are firmly of the belief that this is a lot larger than just Penner.”
“It is of the belief by the media and the general public that something wrong, if not criminal, took place. As such Mr Penner needs to be fully investigated. We heard the commissioner at midday say that Penner is not in the investigation at all, it’s just the Nationality Section and what have you. Now this is unacceptable, totally unacceptable. Further to that, point number two: We’re saying that a full independent inquiry need to be done, and we probably need to bring in international assistance for this to be thoroughly done. And it needs to be public. Every week let the public know how this investigation is taking place. Minister Hulse said he spent 22 months on the Social Security. This is our patrimony at risk. If you spent 22 months, then let’s spend the next 22 months on this investigation!”
Included in its list of ten propositions, the VIP is also suggesting that Minister Hulse take a leave from his position until a thorough investigation is completed and that Elvin Penner resigns perpetually from area representative of Cayo Northeast. In addition, the VIP is requesting that Mr Penner and all Parliamentarians, including the speaker, disclose their assets and liabilities in accordance with the Prevention and Corruption Act. Bobby Lopez affirms that if their suggestions are ignored and if the Government fails to sign on to the United Nations Anti-Corruption Act by October 30 – they are prepared to hit the streets in protest.
“We’re saying that failing decisive action on all these nine points, on or before October 30th, the VIP is proposing to work with the social partners in launching a demonstration on October 31st, and show the world that we the people of Belize are serious about cleaning up this country. We cannot usher in a golden age if we don’t have the checks and balances and proper mechanisms to get rid of corruption, and to truly set this country on the path to prosperity, not just for a few, but for every single Belizean today and are yet to be born.”