BELIZE CITY, Mon. Sept. 28, 2020– On Friday, September 25, representatives of the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), the National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB) and the Belize Network of NGO’s (BNN) signed a declaration to push for a reform of the country’s oversight mechanisms in an effort to strengthen democratic governance in Belize.
The declaration thoroughly outlines the shared aims of the three parties, which include achieving meaningful governance and political reform for the advancement of public sector management through the reduction of corruption.
These social partners share the view that over the past twenty years, successive government administrations have “failed to institute the necessary reforms that would guarantee oversight institutions their true independence.”
Some of those oversight institutions being referred to include the Integrity Commission, electoral management bodies, the Office of the Contractor General, the Office of the Auditor General, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), and the Office of the Ombudsman.
As far as the three partners are concerned, this weakness in oversight has led to a demoralization of the public sectors and a deceleration of Belize’s sustainable economic development, which have both affected the country’s democracy.
As a result, the BCCI, NTUCB AND BNN have committed to: engage in a public awareness campaign to educate the public at large about the importance of the reform that they are championing; and to advocate for true independence of oversight institutions through civic education, public pressure and legal resources. They also are pushing for available legal resources to be utilized to bring about effective campaign finance and political party registration laws; and for electoral reform through the consolidation of two electoral management bodies into an Electoral Commission which would be responsible to conduct general elections, municipal elections, by-elections or referenda and protect the electoral process from the immediate direction, influence or control of the Government.
Finally, they plan to advocate for the utilization of information and communication technologies to improve on the efficiency and the effectiveness of service delivery in the public and business sectors.
At the signing of the declaration, the NTUCB was represented by its president, Marvin Mora (NTUCB president); BCCI was represented by Ms. Marissa Longsworth (BCCI president); and Ms. Froyla Tzalam (Chair of BNN) represented BNN. All three took the podium to make an address on the declaration.
Mora stated that this is the second phase for the NTUCB in attaining good governance. The next step, he says, is to engage the Government of Belize in a diplomatic and meaningful way to be able to achieve “what we so desire as a country.”
Mora concluded by urging all members of a union to support the declaration and advocate for the change that the three parties hope will bring about an improved system of governance in the country.
Senator representing NGO’s, Osmany Salas, and Senator of the Business Community, Mark Lizarraga, also took the podium to read the various parts of the declaration before it was signed.