The speeches delivered by Prime Minister Dean Barrow and Opposition Leader John Briceno on Thursday, September 21st at the official Independence Day ceremony in Belmopan will be better remembered for their differences in view points and conclusions. As we reported last week, it was almost as if the two leaders were talking about two Belize’s and the state of the economy and social conditions. Another area where there was a difference of opinion had to do with the level of effort by the Government to get good governance ,watchdogs such as the Public Accounts Committee and the UNCAC, functioning.
Honorable John Briceno - Opposition Leader People’s United Party
“It is the opinion of many Belizeans that our government institutions are either corrupt or incompetent and there seems to be no good in today’s governance, recent actions taken by the current administrations with respect to the independence and integrity of the judiciary as it relates to appointments of judges to the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals has occurred in spite of my opposition and that of the Bar of Association of Belize and the Belize network of non-governmental organizations furthermore the decision by the government not to allow for the Public Accounts Committee to hold public hearings is in direct contrast to the desire of openness and transparency; a key component to good governance, the last re-registration exercise was conducted more than twenty years ago, it is public knowledge that many persons were illegally placed on the register of voters as such the current voter register is corrupt and this is a direct attack on the legitimacy of every election held in Belize, it is undemocratic.”
Rt. Honourable Dean Barrow - Prime Minister of Belize
“Implementation of the United Nation Convention Against Corruption is moving full speed ahead with multiple stakeholders participating in this national process, the integrity commission has been reconstituted is working and has already published in the gazette for public knowledge and further action the names of those politicians who failed to comply with their obligations on the law, how so called responsible people can claim to be unaware of these activities defeats me but there are none so blind as those who will not see, let me make clear government in this context is still agreeable to the expansion of the public accounts committee though the logistics of its conversion form a house to a bicameral entity are proving challenging, I invite the Chamber of Commerce to help us you have a number of lawyers help us to draft the instrument that can produce this transition.”
According to the Prime Minister, because the Government is footing the bill for the UNCAC implementation and the Integrity Commission, at over $200,000, there will be no more money to support the Senate Select Committee’s hearing beyond November.