BELIZE CITY, Mon. Sept. 5, 2016–On Thursday, a memo from the Financial Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Joseph Waight, addressed to the Cabinet Secretary, chief executive officers, heads of departments and accounting officers regarding the use of government vehicles, was leaked to the media.
The memo states, “Government vehicles should be viewed as belonging to the citizens of Belize and are assigned solely for the purposes consistent with providing services to those citizens…”
The memo further stated, “We’ve seen cases where authorization forms were not being used by public officers travelling in vehicles after working hours, weekends and public holidays. For the most part they were not doing or providing any service on behalf of the Government to the citizens of Belize.”
The statement ended with a list of penalties, including the impounding of unauthorized vehicles, a 20% reduction in fuel allocation, and penalization of drivers consistent with the Disciplinary Procedures Manual.
Those penalties for Government vehicles were scheduled to take immediate effect on Friday, September 1, at around 8 p.m., but that same night, a white Great Wall Wingle pickup, with mayoral license plate “San Ignacio Santa Elena (SISE): 00002”, was parked in front of the Belize High School of Agriculture, situated between the villages of San Lazaro and Trinidad in the Orange Walk South constituency, and inside that vehicle, according to photos that have gone viral on Facebook, slept a shirtless man of Hispanic descent in the driver’s seat, while another snored in the back seat.
When our newspaper spoke to the PUP area representative for Orange Walk South, Jose Abelardo Mai, he added that groceries and empty beer bottles were also seen in the vehicle.
Mai, who was upset about the incident, warned that it was the people’s money that paid for that vehicle apparently issued to UDP Mayor Earl Trapp. He also suggested that the men found sleeping inside the vehicle were drunk and employees of the San Ignacio/Santa Elena Town Council.
This squandering of already limited governmental resources highlights continued corruption in government, he said.
For now, it appears that the men found in the vehicle will not face sanctions by the Financial Secretary because town councils fall under local government, and not central government.
However, they will be indefinitely suspended without pay for acting irresponsibly, according to Cayo resident and UDP Chairman, Alberto August, who spoke with Amandala on Sunday.
According to August, Mayor Trapp and his council met and apologized for what transpired.
The men were originally sent to Blue Creek to check on repairs on the transmission of another vehicle belonging to the council.
Amandala tried to contract Mayor Trapp, but he has not returned our calls.