28 September, 2005 - Belmopan
Cabinet met in regular session on Tuesday, September 27, 2005.

The following items are submitted for public information:

GOB plans to toughen laws against contraband

The Government plans to introduce measures at Friday's (September 30,
2005) sitting of the House of Representatives to strengthen the law on
uncustomed goods and to facilitate the prosecution and punishment of
customs offences.

The new initiatives will be presented as an amendment to the Customs
Regulations to increase the penalties on those persons who import
restricted goods, import goods for which duties have not been paid or
secured, or knowingly or recklessly harbour or conceal uncustomed goods.
The penalty for such actions would be three times the value of the goods
in respect of which the offence was committed. The courts would also be
empowered to forfeit any aircraft, vehicle, vessel, animal or any other
means of transportation of such goods.

In view of the prevalence of uncustomed vehicles in Belize and the
resultant loss to revenue, a new section will be added to the law
creating an offence of strict liability relating to uncustomed vehicles.
In an attempt to put an end to the widespread trade in stolen vehicles,
it shall be an offence to acquire possession or control of an uncustomed
vehicle without lawful authority or excuse. It will also be an offence
to alter or tamper with the vehicle identification number (VIN) or other
identification mark of a vehicle.

and buy back Belize Water Services

In keeping with its commitment to return majority control of Belize
Water Services Limited (BWSL) to the Belizean public, Government
proposes to present a resolution to the next sitting of the House of
Representatives seeking approval for the repurchase of Cascal's entire
shareholding in BWSL.

In the course of the privatization of the Belize Water and Sewerage
Authority in 2001, Government had sold some 33 million ordinary shares
in BWSL (representing 82.68% of the issued share capital of BWSL) to
Cascal, BV, a Netherlands registered company. The Government and Cascal
have reached an agreement for the repurchase by Government of Cascal's
entire shareholding at the original price of US$24.8 million, that is,
at the rate of BZ$1.50 per share. The Government's intention is to
retrieve and return the majority control in BWSL to the Belizean
public.

Government will be seeking the approval of the National Assembly before
completing the Share Purchase Agreement and associated documents.

Showing concern for the disabled

Cabinet has approved a framework for a national policy to address issues
faced by those Belizeans who are directly affected by disabilities, and
tasked the Ministries of Health and Human Development to consult further
to develop a plan of action to implement the policy.

The Ministry of Human Development, led by Minister Sylvia Flores, along
with key partners, including the Belize Council for the Visually
Impaired, CARE-Belize and concerned parents of children with
disabilities, saw the need to develop a policy that will address the
issues affecting persons with disabilities and their families.
According to the Central Statistical Office (2000 census) 5.9% of the
population had a disability, with significantly higher rates in the
Toledo (8.4%) and the Cayo (7.5%) Districts.

The policy document presented to Cabinet is the result of consultations
held countrywide with non-government, government and individuals,
including persons with disabilities. It presents the principles,
purpose and objectives to be addressed through the policy, and proposes
the establishment of a national mechanism to coordinate the policy
implementation.