Belize City, Wed. Oct. 6, 2021– Following a Cabinet meeting that was held on Tuesday, October 5, a Cabinet brief was issued to highlight the topics that were discussed. Foremost among these topics was the country’s efforts to minimize the harm caused by the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the progress of the current vaccination campaign.
Primarily, the brief reported on the Cabinet’s recent meeting with the COVID-19 Health Advisory Task Force, which provided the Cabinet with a status update and recommendations on an appropriate COVID-19 response strategy for the upcoming months. Doctors advised that while progress has been made in terms of the percentage of the population that has been vaccinated, precautions must continue to be taken, as Belize has not yet reached the peak of its 3rd Covid-19 wave. Additionally, the advisory team outlined a number of recommendations to curb the spread of the virus for the remainder of 2021, which the Minister of Health and Wellness is expected to make public.
Cabinet also approved the establishment of a “COVID-19 Enforcement Unit” within the Ministry of Health and Wellness. The main responsibility of this unit is to supervise the enforcement of COVID-19 protocols in all businesses and establishments. Regarding vaccinations, the Cabinet reported that as of Monday, October 3, 198,580 persons (48% of the population) had received at least one dose of the vaccine, while 139,157 (34%) are fully vaccinated.
In relation to crime prevention, the GoB plans to enact a “three-pronged approach to crime prevention that is centered on social development, change behavior and violence interrupter components completed by evidence-based policing” which will be presented by the Ministries of Home Affairs, Youth and Human Development.
The Cabinet also gave approval for Belize to accede to the Madrid Protocol for the international registration of trademarks administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization and for the inclusion of the Madrid Protocol in the domestic legal framework. Belize Intellectual Property Office (BELIPO) personnel will be trained in the rollout of the protocol and a review of the amendment to the existing trademark legislation and training of BELIPO personnel will also be required.
The Ministry of Youth, Sports and E-Governance will embark on a “strategy which provides young people with opportunities to partake in skills training and other important roles as a means of becoming involved in the leadership of society in the future”. This training will entail knowledge sharing in specialized areas that the GoB feels the private sector cannot provide and will instead be provided by agencies such as the Fisheries, Health, Mining and Geology departments.
Also, Cabinet gave its approval for the Introduction of Phase 8 of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) Trade Agreement with the European Union (EU) and approved legislation for the implementation of this phase of the EPA which will provide for the removal of import duties from goods from member countries of the EU.
The Ministry responsible for New Growth Industries was given the green light to proceed with a new endeavor to introduce a national cohune industry in Belize. The industry will reportedly include stakeholders and representatives from several ministries, namely the Energy, Economic Development, Trade, Local Government, Immigration, and Sustainable Development ministries. The New Growth Ministry will be responsible for coordinating and supporting initial investment In the cohune industry.
Cabinet also gave its approval for an addendum to the 2010 Temporary Employment Permit Policy to allow for the processing of applications for temporary employment permits in a more expeditious manner. This is in direct response to the Plan Belize Manifesto component which refers to easy and transparent conducting of business through the elimination of “meaningless and excessive bureaucracy” and the modernization of systems and processes for greater efficiency.