Amateur Hour at the National Assembly Print E-mail
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Written by By Shane D. Williams   
Thursday, 23 March 2017 00:00

briceno and hyde.jpg - 658.46 KbBelizeans at home and abroad can tune in to their favourite radio stations online or watch live on Wave Radio and TV’s Facebook page at 10 a.m. on Thursday as the Leader of the Opposition brutally butchers a perfectly written speech prepared for his response to Prime Minister Barrow’s 2017-2018 General Revenue Appropriation Bill.

Johnny Briceno is less eloquent than the great Israelite hero, Moses. He has the oration skills of Looney Tunes’ Porky Pig and is less charismatic than Liberia’s Charles Taylor. The only thing worse than listening to a parliamentarian who is terrible at debating is listening to one who is both terrible and drop dead boring. If you are into that sort of thing, Johnny B goes live at 10 a.m. sharp!

What you cannot expect from Briceno’s contribution to the budget debate is substance. He will try to convince everyone listening that Belize’s economy is at the point of collapse, despite the fact that Government recently secured over $600 million in cash flow savings from 2017 to 2030 in the Superbond restructure. He will complain about the public debt and Government spending while ignoring the fact that the majority of the debt stems from the administration in which he was Deputy Prime Minister for ten years – debt which had little to no contribution to economic growth. He will speak of corruption in Government, wreckless spending, poverty alleviation and all the other topics that should be off limits to members of Said Musa’s administrations; because he has no shame the grandstanding will be shameful. Let us hope he ends his presentation by telling the country where he got the millions of dollars to start his cable company. 

The sad thing about the Opposition’s line up for Thursday is that there is not much better to look forward to than Hon. Johnny B (outside of the Right Hon. Said Musa). The faithful (unelected) deputy party leader Cordel Hyde will follow Briceno. He will deliver a sermon from Mount Zinc, one which only those on Partridge Street can appreciate. Former Prime Minister Musa is the only member of the Opposition respected by the Government side of the House. There is little doubt that Rt. Hon. Said Musa is one of the best debaters in the history of Belize and us political enthusiasts are lucky to have him. He will not disappoint and will surely provide much comic relief to supporters of both political parties.

The best hope for representatives of the press and others who have to be in attendance at the House of Representatives on Thursday is for Julius Espat to get up after Said Musa and behave unruly so he can get thrown out again and have everyone else join him. That will save his party over eight hours of embarrassment. Take one for the team Julius.

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 March 2017 17:11
Grant to provide equipment to MET service Print E-mail
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Written by The Guardian   
Thursday, 23 March 2017 00:00

insurance signing.jpg - 81.99 KbOn Tuesday, March 21, 2017, a grant agreement was signed between the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility(CCRIF) SPC and the Government of Belize.  Invited guests included Catherine Cumberbatch and Derek Rudon from the Belize Meteorological Service, Isaac Anthony, CEO, CCRIF SPC; Yvette Alvarez, Senior Advisor, Ministry of Finance; Alma Gomez, Supervisor of Insurance, as well as other CCRIF Board and Team members.

CCRI is an not for profit insurance group which focuses on providing coverage to countries in the aftermath of natural disasters.  In welcoming the CCRIF, Alvarez informed the attendants that there are plans to renew and continue dialogue with the CCRIF. Already the organization has assisted with the purchase of new products for the MET Office under the Tropical Cyclone and Rainfall policies, which are policies that the Government of Belize have purchased in its USD $450- $600 thousand dollar coverage.

Isaac Anthony, CEO, CCRIF SPC explained that the agreement provides the Meteorological Service of Belize, through the CCRIF and the GOB, with USD $100,000 for the purchase of forty or fifty automatic weather stations. The stations are to provide the Service with access to real-time rainfall data that is projected to significantly improve the GOB’s ability to monitor, record, and forecast rainfall within the country as well as better preparing the country for hydrometeorological events. According to Anthony, following 2016’s hurricane Earl, he and Alma Gomez had a discussion primarily regarding the difficulties with the assessment of rainfall across Belize.

In his talk, CEO Anthony briefed on USD $69 million dollar government payouts to ten different countries in the ten years of the project’s existence. He boasted of their expeditious disaster relief and aid, typically within 14 days of the disaster. He also introduced the possibility of a new microinsurance project that focuses on farmers, fishermen, and the like, providing them with insurance against the weather. This is a new project that three countries, including Belize, are expected to pilot this year.

Beside the project’s involvement in providing financial assistance to risk countries, their intent is to receive updates. The CEO expressed his hope to continue working with the GOB as well as risk groups within Belize. After being asked if the dawning effects of climate change has affected support to the project, the CEO’s reply was simple: it has.
Alvarez, as well as members of CCRIF, spoke of the benefits of the project. Such include scholarships and trainings to individuals that can best benefit from such opportunities. So far, two meteorologists have been a part of such opportunities namely Michele Smith and Shanae Young. The two had the chance to pursue and complete a Bachelor of Science degree in Meteorology at the University of the West Indies on Barbados’ Cave Hill campus. Young ambitiously pursued a Master of Science degree with the aid of the CCRIF and was successful in and merited for her efforts. The efforts of the CCRIF also provides the MET Office with new equipment.

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 March 2017 17:12
CITCO and Stakeholders Reach Agreement on Cinderella Plaza Layout Print E-mail
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Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 23 March 2017 00:00

The Belize City Council, Cinderella Plaza Taxi Association, residents  and other business houses in the Cinderella Plaza area have reached an agreement on the proposed layout for the rehabilitated space. Copies of the Cinderella Plaza Proposed Dimension Layout were handed out at a public consultation on Tuesday night, March 21.

During the consultation exercise, Councilor Philip Willoughby provided an update on the Flood Mitigation Project, which has been integral to the development of the Cinderella Plaza community. The Belize City Council worked in close partnership with the Flood Mitigation Project Committee to concrete streets in the area simultaneously with their comprehensive drainage project. Willoughby explained that the Committee will officially hand over the area to the Belize City Council within a few weeks and it will once again be the Council’s responsibility for upkeep and further development of the infrastructure.

Councilor Bernard Q. Pitts holds the portfolio with Responsibility for Traffic. He gave an overview of the proposed layout which increases the number of parking spaces from 18 to 29 in the area. The median will be made shorter. Ten feet will be removed from the side that leads into Freetown Road and five feet will be removed from the end near Kelly Street. Two Kiosks will be added next to the Belize Water Services plant for small entrepreneurs. Green spaces will be featured along the median and at other locations in the area. A bathroom facility will be added for the use of taxi operators and small entrepreneurs.

Councilor Michael Theus is responsible for Small Business Initiatives. He spoke about the difficulty experienced during the consultation process in striking a balance between the needs of residents, taxi operators and other business owners in the area. “We finally have a plan that everyone seems to be happy with.”

Floyd Neal Elected President of NTUCB Print E-mail
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Written by By Shane D. Williams   
Thursday, 23 March 2017 00:00

The President of the National Trade Union Congress of Belize, an organization which represents thousands of workers, was elected with 45 votes in an Extraordinary General Meeting on Saturday, March 18. Marvin Mora was re-elected at the Annual General Meeting in December 2016 but he was stripped of the title since he had serve more time than an individual is allowed to be on the executive body.

Veteran labour rights advocate and unionist Jaqueline Willoughby had been serving as Interim President since the post was made vacant in December. She submitted her name to vy for the post of President at the Extraordinary General Meeting on Saturday. She was challenged by Floyd Neal, who was brought into the union leadership by Audrey Matura-Shepherd when she assumed the presidency of the Christian Workers Union in December of 2013. Shepherd appointed Neal as Secretary General of the CWU and he has worked his way up the ladder since then.

It was a David and Goliath match on paper – an attorney who has championed the cause of labourers for a couple decades versus an individual who has only been active for just over four years. When the votes were tallied at the end of the election, the newcomer received 45 votes and the seasoned unionist received 21 votes. There was no evidence of organized campaigning on Willoughby’s part.
Neal assumed the office with a message to employers, “The days of [NTUCB] being a toothless tiger are behind us.”

Forest 4 Life launched Nationally Print E-mail
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Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 23 March 2017 00:00

Over a thousand students filled the auditorium at the Sacred Heart High School and Junior College in San Ignacio Town on Tuesday in a National launch by the Forestry Department, to bring greater appreciation of our forests. The message filled displays by the students was one to behold as we commemorate this year’s International Forest Day.  Among the messages sent were that forests are an integral part of our sustenance. Forests also protect our watersheds and are important to a climate change solution.

Forest 4 Life “… allows students to actually engage in activities outside of the classroom, by doing, they learn more so we want them to go out to nature parks, we want them to engage in community activities right within their own area, because some of them are only one mile away from forested areas-- that  they can experience what forests have to offer,” says Violet Yorke, Communications Officer at the Forest Department.

While Forest 4 Life this year is being spearheaded by the Forestry Department, funding is also coming from the Biodiversity Areas Project, the Protected Areas Conservation Trust and community based groups such as Wild Tracks and the Friends for Conservation and Development.

For this year,  International Forest Day is being held under the theme: “Forest 4 Life.”


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