BELMOPAN, Wed. Jan. 6, 2021– Prior to the first House of Representatives meeting to be held this year (scheduled for Friday, January 8, 2021), the Cabinet met remotely on Monday to discuss several matters related to sustainable development, drug legislation, general national revenue and a few other relevant issues.
One main order of business was a discussion of the government’s plan to hold a state funeral in honor of the late Dr. Dame Minita Gordon, Belize’s first Governor General, who passed away on January 1, 2021 at the age of 90. While the Cabinet has already informed the public of the state funeral, a date for the ceremony has not yet been announced.
In anticipation of the agenda at the next House meeting, Cabinet has approved the introduction of legislation which seeks to “empower” the Central Bank of Belize, allowing the institution to provide emergency programs and facilities that will serve to provide economic support or financial leverage during urgent and unexpected economic challenges, like the current economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Cabinet also reviewed and approved a request submitted by Hon. Orlando Habet, Minister of Sustainable Development, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management, to review all short-term logging licenses issued on national land for the logging season October 2020 to July 2021.
The Cabinet also approved the formation of an inter-ministerial committee, which will be tasked with reviewing the Misuse of Drug Legislation and recommending amendments to facilitate the proper development of the hemp industry and to establish a national hemp policy as well as monitoring mechanisms for the industry.
The inter-ministerial committee will consist of the Minister of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise, Hon. Jose Abelardo Mai; the Minister of Home Affairs and New Growth Industries, Hon. Kareem Musa; and the Minister of Sustainable Development, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management, Hon. Orlando Habet.
Cabinet likewise approved the introduction of a General Revenue (Supplementary Appropriations) Bill to cover urgent and unforeseen expenditure for the period from November 11, 2020, to March 31, 2021, as well as the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the National Forensic Science Services (NFSS) and the Central American Health Sciences University.
The MOU seeks to formalize a working relationship between the two entities and will ensure that the post-mortem examinations for medico-legal death investigations can continue in a manner that is aligned with the strategic priorities of the NFSS. In addition, the Coroner’s Act will be repealed and replaced by “modern legislation”.
These will be the key focus areas at the House meeting slated for Friday at 10:00 a.m.