Friday, 29 December 2006
By Angel Novelo - Staff Reporter
The Supreme Court has ordered the Musa government to stay out of the San Pedro Town Council’s business and allow it to run its own affairs.
The court also ordered all monies secured by a government appointed local building authority be handed over to the Town Council.
The order comes after almost a year of repeated request by the San Pedro Town Council to have the Ministry of Housing officially appoint a Local Building Authority for San Pedro.
According to court records, under the Belize Building Act number 7 of 2003 as amended by Act 2 of 2005, the Minister of Housing is obligated to appoint a local building authority for each district town and municipality.
The town councils have the authority to recommend people to sit on the local building authority and the ministry is obligated to make such appointment.
But the Musa government, through the Ministry of Housing and particularly the Minister of Housing Cordel Hyde, has been giving the UDP controlled San Pedro Town Council a turn around in officially appointing those recommended by the town council.
The San Pedro Town Council under its Mayor Elsa Paz, in August of this year took the Ministry of Housing and the ministry’s Ambergris Caye Planning Committee (A.C.P.C.) to court, seeking an administrative order to have the persons recommended by the town council to be appointed as the San Pedro Local Building Authority.
The A.C.P.C. has been acting as the local building authority for San Pedro since 1990 and over the years, particularly since 2003, been taking much needed revenue from the town council.
Its responsibility include issuing building permits, collects and retained fees charged for building permit applications.
The San Pedro Town Council claimed the A.C.P.C. has been acting illegally.
Paz told the court despite several attempts both orally and written to Hyde to have the A.C.P.C. to discontinue its practice, the minister and his ministry refused.
Her last attempt came in June of 2006 when she wrote to the Acting Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Housing Luke Castillo, asking the ministry officially appoint the people the town council recommended, to sit on the Local Building Authority.
Castillo wrote back to Paz telling her the appointment of such authority is an ongoing process.
Hyde, Paz told the court, never did respond to her letters.
The matter was heard on Thursday December 21 before Chief Justice Abdulai Conteh.
Senior Counsel Dean Barrow appeared on behalf of the town council while the Ministry of Housing was a no show.
Conteh not only ordered the people recommended by the town council are entitled to be appointed, but also ordered the government appointed A.C.P.C. is acting outside the parameters of the law and is not entitled to act as the local building authority for San Pedro Town.
“It is clear from the affidavit of Elsa Paz,” stated Justice Conteh “that the second defendant (the A.C.P.C.) has been in receipt of fees and charges relating to building permissions.
I order an account be taken of such fees and cheques and the amount found due to be paid over to the Town Council.”