10 January, 2001 - Belmopan
Cabinet Meeting of 9th January, 2001

Cabinet held its first regular session for the New Year on Tuesday, 9th
January, 2001. The following items are submitted for public

(1) Village Council elections. Cabinet agreed today to set aside
the period March 15th to April 15th 2001 for the holding of Village
Council elections throughout the country. The new Village Councils will
be elected under regulations enacted in the Village Councils Act of 1999
under the supervision of the Elections and Boundaries Commission.
Wednesday, February 28th 2001 will be set aside as Nomination Day for
the 180 villages and 12 communities countrywide who will be electing
their representatives. Each community will be required to elect one
Chairman and six councilors for a period of two years.

(2) Higher pension cheques. More than three hundred (300)
retired civil servants, or their widows and children, will be receiving
higher pension checks. Cabinet decided to increase the minimum pensions
payable to retired public officers from $200 to $300. Those persons who
receive less than $300 per months will be affected. These new increase
are complementary to the approved increases in the Social Security
Pensions and will be retroactive to January 1st 2001. To give effect to
the new payments, both the Pensions Act (Chapter 22) and the Windows and
Pensions Act (Chapter) of the Laws will need to be amended.

(3) National security review. The Minister for National Security
briefed Cabinet on agreements reached with the Cabinet sub-committee on
national security with regard to funding for improvements in the
physical assets of the Police and Belize Defense Force, the
strengthening of the Police Prosecution branch, expansion of the
volunteer element of the BDF and others matters. Minister Espat will
make a formal statement on national security initiatives next Tuesday
(January 16, 2001) when he addresses the high command of the security
establishment at the Queen Street Police Station in Belize City.

(4) Fiscal incentives. Cabinet approved expansion of development
concessions granted to assist G and R Development Company Limited to
establish an eco-tourism resort one mile north of the mouth of South
Stann Creek River, as well as expansion of incentives granted to Sam
Riggs Agricultural Pilot Training Center Limited to set up a training
center for commercial flying service one quarter of a mile west of
Consejo Village in the Corozal District. Cabinet also granted duty
exemption to Benque Viejo Snack Company Limited to encourage the
manufacture and packaging of a range of Snacks product such as plantain
chips, peanuts, cashews and other locally produced Fruits.

(5) Legitimizing akas (also known as). In an effort to fulfill
its manifesto commitment to allow Belizeans to legalize the identities
of their choice, Cabinet has agreed to set aside a period of six months
during the course of this year to allow persons to register their
correct names in the districts where they live. A number of Belizeans
have their identification cards. The most frequent reason for using
AKAS is that those persons are registered at birth under one name, (for
example, their mother's name) but have assumed another name (for
example, their father's name) as their sole identity all their lives.
The new government initiative will allow the 5,000 or more persons
countrywide who are affected to register their identities of choice at
the Registry and Election and Boundaries Offices in the districts. For
the duration of the process, fees for processing deed polls and other
fees relating to late registration and correcting of birth records will
be waived.

The next regular session of Cabinet will be held on Tuesday, 16th
January 2001.

For further information contact:

Cabinet Secretary
January 9th 2001