Belize Senate is Failing Belize

According to Senator for the Business Community, Mark Lizarraga, the Belize Senate as it is performing at this time in our nation’s history is “suffering from an urgent crisis of the erosion of public confidence in governance in our jewel Belize!”

He made those comments at the last sitting of the Senate in his attempts to appeal to the senate, to do its job and launch an investigation into the recent scandals that have been aired in the public domain.

Mr. Mark Lizarraga- Senator for the Private Sector

“Section 8 reads that ‘the senate shall have the power of requiring the attendance of any committee of the senate of any minister of government”.

Mr. President, to my knowledge, all of the sub-committees of the senate have never met. I am a member of the subcommittee and we have never met. If we score ourselves, Mr. President, in compliance with our constitutional obligations, we can honestly claim to have fulfilled only one Section, that of Section C: “The Approving of Appointments”. This, Mr. President, would give 1 of 8 points, or 12.5%. We are suffering from a crisis of a public confidence. This is a horrible grade, Mr. President; it is unforgivable. We are failing to perform our most basic obligations as per those sections of the constitution”.

The Constitution is clear that the senate ‘s duties include “instituting and conducting inquiries and investigations on ANY matter of public interest or importance, including inquiries into mismanagement or corruption by persons in the central government or public statutory bodies”.

In other words, the senate does not need to wait for reports from the investigations such as those by the Auditor General’s office, but the senate can launch its own investigations.

Mr. Mark Lizarraga- Senator for the Private Sector

“Mr. President, we have yet to see the report or any report of the Auditor General on any matter; especially the report on the most recent scandals in the Immigration Department; we have yet to call anyone to report to us on any of the countless scandals. When will we, Mr. President, begin to do our work, as per those the constitution or cease to fail our Belizean people that pay us to be here? We call for the commencement of Senate investigations into the countless and many scandals in our country today so that we can truly perform our oversight responsibilities as is intended in the constitution of our country”.

The Senate, says Senator Lizarraga, is not even properly constituted as required currently law because the 13th Senator remains glaringly absent from the current composition.

Mr. Mark Lizarraga- Senator for the Private Sector

“Those that I represent and the public, Mr. President, will continue to call for the senate to be reformed and composed of 13 senators as should be by law. This was promised and passed by both houses, six years ago, and to date, it has still yet not been brought into effect. At No. 13th of 2008, the 6th Constitutional Amendment that was promised and passed to strengthen governance, for what, Mr. President? Why has it not been brought into effect and what is the government waiting for?”

Mr. Mark Lizarraga- Senator for the Private Sector

“The honourable leader of Government business was very instrumental and represented very well, his views of and of the private sector in this commission. The report states, Mr. President, [and here, I paraphrased some points below]:

The house and even more so the senate serve largely as rubber stamps for Cabinet decisions. The commission is of the view, [it continues], that this has not worked and it is clear that the senate is by and large, a rubber stamp for the house. We would like to call on the government and especially the leader of Government business to continue his support for the process of reform that he started; to continue to champion that which he champions so well and so vigorously in the past”.

Senator Lizarraga implored Current leader of government business, Hon Godwin Hulse, the very one who once championed the cause of reform as an active member of the Political reform Commission, help to get the senate to be more than a rubber stamp but instead for it to become a champion of the Belizean People.

Original Article

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