Headline — 21 July 2018 — by Rowland A. Parks
No Contractor General, but PM Barrow quietly signs SI allowing CEOs to sign contracts for up to $50,000

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. July 19, 2018– Belize has been without a Contractor General since last December, when the Senate rejected the proposed reappointment of former Contractor General Godwin Arzu, who had failed to provide written reports to the National Assembly.

Under a new Statutory Instrument that was published in the Government Gazette on March 24, 2018, however, Prime Minister Dean Barrow amended the law to allow for “Accounting Officers,” meaning Chief Executive Officers, to sign contracts on behalf of the government.

Instead of appointing a Contractor General, PM Barrow, as Minister of Finance, signed into law Statutory Instrument number 16 of 2018, which is an amendment to the Financial Regulations and is to be read along with the principal order, which is the Financial Order of 1965.

The new SI states: “Order 701 of the Principal Order is repealed and the following is substituted:

“701. An Accounting Officer may make verbal contracts for works and services under ten thousand dollars. An Accounting Officer may make written contracts to a limit of fifty thousand dollars with the approval of that Accounting Officer’s Minister. Tenders, shall normally be invited for contracts over twenty thousand dollars. Tenders shall be invited for contracts over fifty thousand dollars.

“These Regulations shall come into force on the 1st day of April 2018.”

The SI ends saying, “Made by the Minister responsible for Finance this 21 day of December, 2017.”

In December 2016, following an 11-day strike by the Belize National Teachers Union, the Government of Belize signed onto the United Nations Convention against Corruption UNCAC, thereby pledging transparency and to fight against corruption.

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