The occasion of Belize’s 32nd Official Independence Day ceremonies was the venue chosen by the Mayor of the City of Belmopan to complain about the deteriorating state of Belmopan’s municipal infrastructure and to lay much blame for that fact on RECONDEV. While the evidence indicates that RECONDEV coffers, where BMPCITCO is concerned, has indeed siphoned off, this historic three-term UDP “management” of City Hall (2006-2015) and its pursuit of petty partisan policies of governance, has finally taken its toll, resulting in a failed municipal management, poor work ethic and a bankruptcy of ideas. RECONDEV cannot be wholly blamed for the institutional inertia resident at City Hall, but there can be little doubt that the designed cordial and professional working relationship which once existed between these two statutory bodies has deteriorated and malfunctioned.
RECONDEV, at Belmopan’s inception, became the registered owner of all lands within the municipality. Any area of green and open spaces not surveyed and assigned a parcel number is the property of RECONDEV. As such, this Statutory Body under law Chapter 93 of the Laws of Belize is a strategic entity and one that is required to have a functioning relationship with City Hall.
Following any general elections and formation of a new government, a nine (9) member Board of RECONDEV is appointed by the Minister of Finance. These appointments have no rhyme or reason other than the appointees to be loyal supporters of the ruling party, with some exceptions. Following the first ever Belmopan City Council elections in 2000, the then Minister of Finance, Ralph Fonseca, stated …”RECONDEV exists to manage the land assets of Belmopan for the benefit and development of Belmopan”.
In 2003, the then Minister of Finance, PM Musa, decreed that the Office of the Mayor of Belmopan is to be Director of the Board; a practice followed up to this day. For all intents and purposes, this policy was designed for the Mayor is to be consulted on all municipal matters as prescribed by the ACT (*1).
The output of these policies can be seen in BMPCITCO’s audited financials (2000-2006) (*2) where the cumulative sum of $2,992,270.00 dollars was receipted from RECONDEV coffers to City Hall. This policy was upheld following the 2006 municipal elections whereby the duly elected UDP Mayor sat as a RECONDEV director and a UDP City Hall received cash inflows from a PUP-appointed Board of Directors, to the sum of $493,196.00 dollars (*3).
It would seem then that the collapse and dysfunction of a working relationship between City Hall and RECONDEV occurred after the 2008 general elections under a UDP Minister of Finance and a UDP Board of Directors. The policy of a shared revenue changed as the receipted cash flows to City Hall have now dwindled to a mere $10,000.00 dollars (*4). Something has gone terribly wrong here, and the finances and role of RECONDEV must be reviewed.
The podium of any Official Independence Day ceremony creates a sense of occasion and offers the privileged opportunity for the Mayor of Belmopan to welcome and greet both residents and visitors alike. It should not be used as the venue to gripe about failed policies; that’s more appropriately suited for a Belmopan Day Address on August 1st. While emotional frustrations are understandable, the Office of the Mayor requires that such be tempered with restraint and decor. Notwithstanding, the point was made.
Where are the millions of dollars earned annually by RECONDEV that formally assisted with funding the infrastructural development of the City of Belmopan now being invested and reported?
The RECONDEV ACT, Section 19, subsection (5) requires for the Corporation to submit a Report of its operations for any one fiscal year within 3 months of the close of that year to the Minister of Finance to lay it on the table of the National Assembly. The last time I checked, the only such Report ever submitted to the Office of the Prime Minister was in April of 2008.
Anthony Chanona J.P.
*1 = RECONDEV Act, Chapter 193 of the Laws of Belize.
*2= Booklet, Presentation of Management and Stewardship/page 33.
*3=Cedric Flowers, BMPCITCO Audit 2007-2008/page11.
*4= BMPCITCO Financials April-Nov 2011