The National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB) dissected and took issue this week with Cabinet’s rationale for not implementing reforms to the Public Accounts Committee.
The NTUCB issued a release on Wednesday reiterating its strong support for the proposed reforms to the PAC by its Chairman Hon. Julius Espat.
They sharply criticized the notion that the reforms would increase the operational costs and upend the standing orders of the House and democracy.
The NTUCB questioned GOB as to the operational cost of the current committee and queried what aspect of the reforms would raise those costs. The unions call for full disclosure so that Belizeans can “determine the accuracy and relevance of this claim.”
The unions also responded to the Prime Minister’s reasoning that the proposed changes would call for major changes to the standing orders, by reminding that GOB has, in the past, made changes to the Constitution itself to nationalize companies and reconfigure the Senate.
The NTUCB also pointed out that while the Prime Minister said that the Standing Orders dictate that the members of the PAC must reflect the balance of power in the House, the current four-to-two composition of the PAC is not an accurate representation and still needs to be addressed.
With respect to Cabinet’s statement that the government members of the PAC will convene meetings in absence of the chairman, the NTUCB said that this would “go against the very spirit and principles of the standing orders.”
The Prime Minister’s office issued a release last Wednesday, taking a position against the proposed reforms to the PAC to include senators representing the Church, Trade Unions and the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI).
So far the NTUCB, and BCCI have registered their support of the reforms; however, the churches have not.
People’s United Party leader, Hon. Francis Fonseca, has said that in the PUP’s dialogue with the churches, they have agreed that reform is necessary; however, they have not taken an official position on the proposed reforms.