The final in the series of public consultations on the Belize Constitution Ninth Amendment bill took place last night in Belmopan. It was another well-attended forum as hundreds of people packed the Belmopan Civic Centre to listen and take part in the discussion. At the start of the proceedings, chairman of the Committee John Saldivar set the ground rules and then the microphones were opened for feedback.

John Saldivar- Chairman
“We do want to hear from as many of you as are prepared to come up. We want to hear from as many of you and so we want to conduct tonight’s proceedings with some order, so that all persons that want to give or make interventions, will be able to do so within a reasonable space of time. “

“As a Belizean, who wants the best for my country, I support the ninth amendment.”

“The ninth amendment is a courageous, a commendable and a bold move that only a government who is country focused and people oriented can put forward. I only see good intentions and deliverable benefits and I only say, yes and yes to the ninth.”

“What I can say is that the ninth amendment is the best thing that has ever happened to Belize, I trust and I am sure that the Hon. Dean Barrow and this administration will use this as a gift to Belize, using the good moral values and that will benefit all Belizeans.”

“I have a question; I want to take up to the chairman my question. One of the sections I believe, One-Forty-Four, speaks to the shares that belong to the Belize Social Security Board that is being counted as those of the government. But it also says that if the Social Security Board decides to dispose of those shares that the first offer goes to the government. If we are saying that those share belongs to the government and I understand that the board does make investments in different area’s from time to time, my question is, is this the best option to follow in a sense, to have the investment of the Belize Social Security Board tied up in Amendments in our Constitution? Why is it that the government cannot seek to have its fifty-one percent, not including those of the investments of the Social Security Act?”

John Saldivar – Chairman
“I think though, from a legal stand point, and I stand to be corrected, we’re not saying that it is owned by the government are we, we are saying that it is supposed to be counted as a part of the fifty-one percent. Am I correct in saying that Sol-Gen? “

Cheryl Krusen - Solicitor General
“The reason why the Social Security shares are specifically dealt with in the proposed amendment is to ensure that, should they wish to sell them, it would still have to remain within the fifty-one percent to enable majority share holding. So first option has to be given to the Government of Belize. Other than that then you are going to go below the majority shareholding threshold of fifty-one percent. “

As explained by Minister Saldivar at the end of last night’s consultation, the Constitution and Foreign Affairs Committee will meet for a final time to discuss and approve the changes proposed by the Prime Minister. The ninety days mandated for consultation on the Ninth Amendment expires on October twentieth, after which government will be taking the proposed legislation back to the House of Representatives. Saldivar says there is still time for persons wishing to make presentations on the Ninth Amendment and they can do so in writing to the Clerk of the National Assembly in Belmopan. As we had reported previously, the opposition People’s United Party’s western caucus boycotted last night’s consultation. Opposition members of the Constitution and Foreign Affairs Committee, John Briceño and Francis Fonseca were also not present at last night’s public consultation.