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Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,395
Marty Offline OP
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We've already shown you a whole lot from Belmopan tonight - but we haven't even touched any of the House business. And that's because there wasn't much. The only bill of serious mention is the Moratorium on Offshore Oil Exploration known as the Petroleum Operations Bill, 2017. In a rare show of bi-partisanship, this one had PUP support. Opposition Leader John Briceno called it a people's victory :...

Hon. John Briceno, Leader of the Opposition
"This is a victory of the people Madam Speaker, because it of what they say "people power" that today we are working on this bill that we hope will soon become an act and law of the land."

"Look at the Spanish Lookout oil field. What did we get? We got a little over 600 million dollars Madam Speaker. Oil done. Money done. And what do we have to show for it? Poverty didn't go down. We didn't say we give thousands of students scholarships out of the oil money, but the money gone, the money finished, the oil finished. The point I'm trying to make, we can't risk for a little bit of oil to do oil exploration into our waters, because when you look at the Belize Barrier Reef, in my mind, the Belize Barrier Reef gives us more than 600 million dollars every year."

And while the opposition leader showed general support, he also said the bill could go further in ensuring the broadest protection possible for the reef. And that's where the spirit of bi-partisanship walked out the door, and the good old name-calling stepped in:..

Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"He did a nice piece of grandstanding just now, expect his slip is showing. If you want to get up and pontificate and crown yourself with all sorts of laurel wreaths and you do so by asserting that you are in fact more Catholic than the Pope. You should check and inform yourself before you shoot off your mouth. The whole idea of your presentation is to put yourself on the side of the angels, by saying first of all this has nothing in effect to do with the UDP, it's a people's victory. Good enough. But then to show how much you are a paladin of the people and therefore what has been achieve is not enough and more must be done. You talk about amendments that need to be made and almost every single amendment that you are urging on us has been made in the committee that consider the bill."

"It's here, it's among your papers sir."

Hon. John Briceno, Leader of the Opposition
"I just got these papers right now, so how on earth, I just got it right now on my table. How can you expect me Madam Speaker to make the....."

Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"I don't buy that for a minute. I'll have to check with the clerk."

Hon. John Briceno, Leader of the Opposition
"See it right here."

Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"In any event, you are the leader of the party. If you weren't there, your members were there. According to you, you are so centrally preoccupied with this matter. You mean they didn't voluntarily report to you, or you didn't seek to find out what has happened. I am sorry sir. Bottom line you look bad, you look terrible."

Channel 7

Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,395
Marty Offline OP
OP Offline

A Christmas Gift to Belize: No Oil on Our Shores!

There was rare bipartisan agreement on the Petroleum Operations (Maritime Zone Moratorium) Bill, 2017, which establishes a moratorium on exploration, exploitation and other operations within the Belize Barrier Reef system, including those sections of the World Heritage Site. Several Senators agreed that today was a moment of celebration and recognition of those Belizeans who fought for such legislation for the past seven years. And the government's chief in the Senate and former Lands Minister Godwin Hulse assured that no agreements have been signed or are in effect for petroleum concessions.

Valerie Woods, P.U.P. Senator

"I am particularly glad to see, my understanding of the first version was that I believe some of the fines or penalties or years [in prison] were certainly not strong enough, and so I can appreciate that there has been an attempt to increase it; it will always be subjective whether you think it's long enough for imprisonment and the amount of fines will be big enough given that it is a billion-dollar industry at the end of the day. Under section six, referring to prior rights subject to prohibition, six-two, it says, "For the purposes of subsection one, the minister may enter into compensation arrangements with persons who have been adversely affected by prohibitions under this Act." Again, given the nature of what we have been dealing with and clearly it has been a controversial matter until it has been brought where it has, if the Leader of Government Business can state if we have an idea of how many or much of this exists, so we can get an appreciation if there are some liabilities the government will be taking on and what amount there is."

Carla Barnett, U.D.P. Senator

"This is one of those situations where I think we have to celebrate an Act, we have to celebrate the fact that as a community, as a country, we have come together to agree on what is the right thing to do. There has been a lot of discussion about this; there has been a lot of debate on the economics of it and the social impact and we have come to a situation where all of us have agreed that this is the right thing to do. So for me it is a Christmas gift, that's how I see it. (Interruption) No, a Christmas gift. I just want to see if I can clarify a couple of the issues though, that have been raised. In the interpretation section, let me speak to that first, the maritime zone of Belize includes all the internal waters, all the territorial sea, the exclusive economic zone. But there has to be some line defining where land is and where water is, that line is the low-water mark. That's not anything unusual; that's how we define where land begins and where maritime ends. How much is between the low water and high water mark depends on whether we're on the cliff edge or on a nice, low beach. For definitional purposes there has to be some line where it ends and that's the sole purpose of that definition there. In terms of the Barrier Reef System containing coral reefs, all of that is just dressing on top of the very specific coordinates that are established here for the whole Barrier Reef system, it's been surveyed, it's been determined, it's written into the law. So the Barrier Reef system is just a subset of the Maritime Zone of Belize."

Godwin Hulse, Leader of Government Business

"With respect to section six and several Senators have mentioned it, it is my understanding that there are no outstanding petroleum licenses. At least it was issued by the Ministry of Natural Resources and in my short tenure I came across none in that area and certainly didn't sign any. And I think Senator Barnett, minister responsible for that department now as minister of state, has echoed the same."

The Bill now goes to the Governor General for his consent.

Channel 5

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