BNTU wants senate probe to continue until ‘nomoh nomoh’ Print E-mail
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Thursday, 14 September 2017 00:00

The executive of the Belize National Teacher’s Union (BNTU) ,appears to be getting ready for a face off with the government once again. This time though it is unlike last year when trade issues were bunched with partisan politics. There is no sort of trade issue on the table at this time. This time it appears to be plain old partisan politics at play. Last week the Prime Minister, in his capacity as Minister of Finance, had responded to two letters from the Clerk of the National Assembly / Secretary for the Senate Special Select Committee. The Clerk had written the two letters to the Minister of Finance on behalf of the committee requesting more finances for the committee. The Prime Minister wrote back to the Clerk, informing him and by extension the committee, that both amounts of monies requested would be extended to them. However the Prime Minister also explained to them that there would be no more monies afforded to them after late November when those approved finances would then be exhausted. According to the PM’s letter, the reason for discontinuing to provide any more finance beyond that period, is because of financial constraints due to the, institution of the Integrity Commission and UNCAC. Both the Integrity Commission and UNCAC comes with high price tags that are placed on the public purse and in a time when finances are tight we need to be prudent in our spending.

That pronouncement appears to not have gone down too good with the BNTU and they issued a press release this week criticizing the government’s decision to discontinue funding the Senate Hearings. According to them, it is a ploy by government to hoodwink the BNTU in particular and Belizeans in general. The BNTU went on to warn the government that the BNTU would not sit idly by and allow the Senate Investigation process to be derailed before it reached its natural conclusion. They went on to sort of threaten government, stating that their strike from October 2016 was only ON HOLD. In case Belizeans do not remember, we must remind that come November this year the Senate Special Select Committee would have been in operation for a full year. We must also note that the things being discussed are very political and monotonous. Most of the information coming out of the hearing is about procedural and clerical errors. There have also been instances where it has been shown that there was misunderstanding of rules or in some cases no clearly defined rules and policies in place. Most of those loopholes have been taken care of while the others are being remedied.

Throughout all this investigation the only instance where we have seen any evidence of anything appearing to be criminal  is Mrs. Alvarine Burgess’ admission that she was involved in some sort of VISA SCAM. She tried but was unable to implicate three ministers and a police officer in that scam. Then there was another instance involving 8 stolen Visa Foils. Other than those instances there has been a lot of finger pointing and conjecture but no evidence to connect any Minister or Public Official to any wrongdoing. We can clearly see why a government that is under financial constraints may be concerned, about the huge sums of monies it has extended on this investigation that has not revealed anything outside of what is contained in the three Auditor General’s Reports. It is our view at this newspaper that any more money spent on this committee, is a waste of monies that we could be using for other things; such as medical needs, support our various social programs for our youths, education, sports and other grassroots programs.

The only persons who it appears to have benefitted so far from this investigation are the media houses that cover the hearings . These media houses we understand are handsomely paid. One of those media houses is owned by the brother of one of the members of the committee. Readers may remember when one senator was lobbying for his brother’s tv station to be paid for carrying the broadcasts. Then there are the allowances the members of the committee receive for attending the hearings. If we were conspiracy theorists we would say that the Union Senator has a vested interest and would stand to benefit financially the longer this committee is empanelled. There are also other expenses incurred for stationary, office supplies, security, utilities and other costs incurred. We have no problem in the investigation going on into perpetuity, but if that is what the BNTU wants, then let them find the money to pay for it, because obviously they are of the opinion that money just falls from trees. If the BNTU really is concerned about corruption then it should call for an investigation into the finances of the PUBLIC SECTOR WORKERS’ TRUST. It will not cost them much, they won’t even have to leave their office, all they have to do is to ask BRO LUKE to open up the books. After all they will then be looking out for many of their members whose monies are tied up in that trust. There is your reason to protest Mr. and Ms. BNTU Member.