Those paws that lover butter and those hustlers that love cheese aren't happy that Belize is slowly migrating to e-government - where processes and forms are handled online.
The first major step is today's launch of the Belize Electronic License and Permit System, known as BELAPS. The 3.5 million dollar project is funded by the Taiwanese Government and spearheaded by Belize's Central Information Technology Office.
Here's what it does: BELAPS creates an electronic platform linking the Fisheries Department, the Forestry Department, the Belize Bureau of Standards, BAHA, the Customs Department and the Ministry of Agriculture for a one-stop online service.
At the launch today, Chief Technology Officer Mike Singh explained how it works:
Mike Singh - Chief Technology Officer, GOB
"If you look at all the agencies that are involved in import and export, where you have to permit, where you have to file documents, where you have to upload documents, you have to get permission, you have to get things signed off; very clerical, a lot of this work. A lot of this was manual and so an importer or exporter had to run from one agency to the next, you know, you need to clear something that is import restricted, you have to go to Belmopan, etc. What this does is this takes that out of it. It means that everything happens on one system that connects them all together and shares the data. So, when you are doing your customs entry you don't have to run to run to get a BAHA permit, you don't have to run to get an agriculture or fisheries, you can do it all in one spot, sitting at your desk."
Jules Vasquez - Reporter
"How it eliminates a lot of the tedium, the bureaucracy but it also eliminates that ugly term that we hear so much- corruption. Will there be institutional resistance? Because we know that the system thrives on corruption at all levels, very low to high. Will there be institutional resistance against streamlining everything because man have to eat."
"Jules, I don't find the resistance to be at the high level. I find that you might have a little stink face here and there when you want to come in and move a server or you want to redo a system and the excuses that come along is that you are changing my work, I'm not trained for those things. But I think that at the high level the commitment is there."
As Singh said, the commitment is there - but can it up-end the decades - old system of ministerial monarchy? That's what we asked the Deputy Prime Minister:
Jules Vasquez - Reporter
"Will this eventually eliminate this minister-centric system where the minister always has the final say-so, always has the power of veto over the life and death of these applications, of the minister's recommendation that is needed. Will that eventually be eliminated and will you support that?"
Hon. Patrick Faber - Minister of Education
"I won't touch that in the way you have presented it but what I will say is that this certainly will make the system more efficient and more accountable. So that those who believe that, for whatever reason, their applications for these services are being held up they can now see it is open and transparent, they can track their application along the way so that you don't have to be relying on who you know and knowing the right people and of course, as I said in my remarks, even greasing the pass, not only of members but of other people who are in the system."
Today's launch is the result of a 5 year project and it should reduce the time involved in processing permits, approvals and licenses by up to 60%. BELAPS is now operational.