BELIZE CITY–Although no draft of the Firearm Amendment Bill was presented in Cabinet on Tuesday as had been expected, it appears that an attempt is still being made to ensure that a draft is ready for introduction when the House of Representatives meets Friday.
The bill has been much anticipated and six months ago, National Security Minister John Saldivar promised a revision in response to protests by private citizens as well as the Opposition People’s United Party. An official source told us that Legal Counsel Gian Ghandi is leading the drafting of the amendments.
Two other bills are ready for introduction. They are amendments to the Telecommunications Act and the Electricity Act, which would empower the minister responsible for public utilities, in this case, Senator Joy Grant, to make by-laws and regulations for both sectors – a power we understand she is now only able to exercise for the water sector.
Meanwhile, amendments to the Insurance and Gaming Control Acts go for second reading and 4 money motions are due to be tabled and taken through all their stages on Friday.
The first is a $20 million loan motion for the further capitalization of the National Bank of Belize. The bank has $100 million in authorized share capital or 1 million shares of $100 each. Back in August 2013 the House of Representatives approved a motion for the Government of Belize to subscribe to 200,000 shares at $100 each, for a total value of BZ$20 million as equity contribution. This new loan motion would similarly allow the Government to acquire another 200,000 shares in the bank.
A loan motion for US$20 million from the Inter-American Development Bank will also be tabled. It calls for repayment over 25 years of 39 equal and semiannual installments of BZ$256,410.25.
Thirdly, there will be a second write-off motion for cane farmers. Last year, the House approved a write-off of $2,866,835, and this second write-off is for $835,543.
The Government will also table a motion to convert a BZ$12.27 million loan from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), facilitated by the Government of Belize for Belize Water Services, to a grant to the water company. The CDB loan was acquired for sewer expansion works, including works on San Pedro.