General — 21 July 2018 — by Rowland A. Parks
Public officers running in UDP conventions are violating the Public Service Regulations

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. July 19, 2018– There are at least eight persons who will be offering themselves as candidates in the upcoming United Democratic Party (UDP) constituency conventions to select standard bearers to represent the party in the 2020 general elections, who are collecting salaries as public officers, in violation of the Public Service Regulations.

One of those candidates, the former Belize City Councilor, Philip Willoughby, had indeed submitted a letter of resignation from his NEMO post, but his resignation is to take effect after the anticipated date of the convention.

Today, we spoke with the Chairman of the Public Services Commission, the former Senator and Minister of the Public Service, Charles Gibson, who told us that he was not aware that there are public officers offering themselves in the constituency conventions.

Gibson added, however, that if there are public officers offering themselves politically, the Public Service Regulations address that issue.

We pressed Gibson on what he would do if he finds out that public officers are indeed offering themselves as candidates in standard bearer conventions.

Gibson said that action would have to be initiated by the department, or the ministry at which the public officer in question is attached.

The Public Service Regulations are unambiguous when it comes to public officers participating in politics.

The regulations say: “A public officer shall not participate actively on behalf of any political party or candidate in any elections held under the Representation of the People Act; Belize City Council Act, Belmopan City Council Act; Town Council Act.”

The regulations further state that without prejudice to the generality of sub regulation (1) “a public officer shall not accept nomination for election as a candidate, or appointment to an office of a political party, whether paid or unpaid; offer himself as a candidate for election under any of the Acts specified in sub-regulation (1) unless he first resigns from the public service.”

Furthermore, the Public Service Regulations list a number of political activities in which public officers are forbidden from participating, which even includes handing out political pamphlets and giving support for a political candidate.

Here is a list of those public officers who are actively involved in politics and whose names appear on the list of candidates running in the UDP constituency conventions in the hopes of securing standard bearer positions:

(1) Yvette Luisa Torres is running in a convention to select a standard bearer for the Orange Walk Central constituency. Torres is an employee at the National Institute and Culture (NICH), which comes under the Ministry of Education.

(2)  Marion Dianne Finnegan is employed as a counselor and coordinator for the Youth Apprenticeship-Program, which comes under the Ministry of Education. Finnegan’s name appeared on the UDP list to run in the Lake Independence convention.

(3)  Ivan Hilbert Williams is employed as the Labor Commissioner. He is a “kind of” repeat violator of the Public Service Regulations, because he is making a second run in a convention to select a standard bearer for the Stann Creek West constituency.

(4) William Arthur Schnarr is employed as a driver at the Office of the Prime Minister, but he has his eyes on the Fort George constituency, and is listed to run in a convention to select its standard bearer.

(5) Dean Samuels, a former Belize City Councilor who is now employed by the Ministry of Works, is listed as one of the UDP candidates for the Port Loyola constituency.

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