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Cabinet Briefs #546487
11/26/20 05:18 AM
11/26/20 05:18 AM
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Marty  Offline OP
Cabinet Brief November 25

The Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño met in regular session on November 24th, 2020.

The Cabinet received a full report from the Hon. Michel Chebat, Minister of Health and Wellness, regarding the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in Belize. Cabinet considered the report, noted the dire effects of the pandemic, the fact that there is no plan in place to address the crisis, and approved the new measures to be implemented with a view to arresting the spread of the virus.

The Ministry of Health will hold a press conference on Thursday, November 26th, to update the public on the crisis arising from the COVID-19 outbreak. The Minister will lay out the Government’s plan to address the COVID-19 pandemic and announce new measures including an increase in the number of testing centers to increase testing and an aggressive awareness campaign.

The Hon. Orlando Habet, Minister of Sustainable Development, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management, briefed the Cabinet on the National Emergency Management Organization’s preliminary report on the impact of the rains associated with Hurricanes ETA and IOTA. The preliminary estimate of loss exceeds BZ$150 million countrywide. This includes loss to agriculture, housing and infrastructure.

To alleviate the needs of persons affected by the flooding situation, Cabinet approved the request for funding by the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Climate Change, and Disaster Risk Management, for food assessment for 5,000 Belizeans.

At the request of the Hon. Julius Espat, Minister of Infrastructure Development and Housing, the Cabinet approved initial funding to begin road works especially on the major roads and highways severely impacted by the recent rains and floods. The Cabinet will revisit this matter at its next regular meeting.

Following the presentation at last week’s meeting on the State of Public Finances and the Economy presented by Mr. Joseph Waight, Financial Secretary; Ambassador Joy Grant, Governor of the Central Bank; and Mr. Kareem Michaels, Deputy Governor of the Central Bank, Cabinet received a further brief on the state of the economy and Government finances. Cabinet agreed to present a new budget for the remainder of the financial year at its first working session of the House of Representatives in early December.

The Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño informed Cabinet that Ambassador Joy Grant, Governor of the Central Bank of Belize, had informed him that at a meeting held on November 18th, 2020, that the Central Bank granted the approval of the merger between the Belize Bank Limited with the Bank of Nova Scotia Limited. The Cabinet noted that under the Domestic Banks and Financial Institutions Act this approval was granted by the Central Bank of Belize and not the Minister of Finance. The Cabinet also decided that it would move promptly to appoint a new Board for the Central Bank of Belize.

Finally, the Cabinet considered a letter from the Public Service Union (PSU) regarding the investigation into the “fire sale” of Government’s assets by the previous administration. The Cabinet agreed to meet with the PSU to look into setting up a committee to further investigate this matter.

Re: Cabinet Briefs [Re: Marty] #546649
12/03/20 05:17 AM
12/03/20 05:17 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 77,056
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Marty Offline OP

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Marty  Offline OP
Cabinet Brief December 2, 2020

The Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño, met remotely in regular session on Tuesday, December 1st, 2020.

• Cabinet decided to launch a full investigation into the “sell-off” of government assets by the previous administration. The inquiry will include representatives from the Ministry of Finance, the Attorney General’s Ministry, the Ministry of the Public Service and representatives from the Public Service Union and the private sector.

• In accordance with its commitment to full transparency, Cabinet decided to authorize a forensic audit of Belize Infrastructure Limited, including all projects it administered.

• Hon. Julius Espat, Minister of Infrastructure Development and Housing, updated the Cabinet on the current state of the nation’s roads, bridges and culverts and the need for emergency repairs and restoration. In this regard, Cabinet approved additional funding of BZ$9 million for road works especially on the major roads and highways severely impacted by the recent rains and floods.

• The Attorney General, Hon. Magali Marin-Young, presented a proposal to amend the legislation to impose time limits for the delivery of judgments in the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals. The Hon. Attorney General informed Cabinet that she had consulted the President of the Court of Appeal, the Acting Chief Justice and the Belize Bar Association before presenting the proposal. Cabinet decided that the legislation would not come into effect immediately and agreed to approve an increase in the allocation for the Judiciary in next year’s budget.

• Cabinet also discussed important amendments to the Contractor General Act including proposals to introduce an independent Public Contracts Commission to review and approve the award of public contracts and to work along with the Contractor General to investigate any suspicious public contracts.

• The Hon. Michel Chebat, Minister of Health and Wellness, updated Cabinet on the current effects of the pandemic and measures recently implemented. Minister Chebat informed Cabinet that a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture for the use of the laboratory at the Belize Agricultural Health Authority for COVID-19 PCR testing. This will scale up the capacity for PCR testing.

The Minister also indicated that the Ministry of Health and Wellness will be doubling the lab staff to decrease the turnaround time for results.

• The Hon. Orlando Habet, the Minister of Sustainable Development, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management, updated the Cabinet on NEMO’s ongoing assistance as a result of the impact of the rains associated with Hurricanes ETA and IOTA. The Minister informed Cabinet that assistance for food, household appliances and other supplies were being provided to more than 2,800 Belizeans. Cabinet requested the production of an updated map of flood-prone areas by NEMO. This deadline for completion is before the start of the 2021 Hurricane Season.

Re: Cabinet Briefs [Re: Marty] #546797
12/10/20 04:53 AM
12/10/20 04:53 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP

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Marty  Offline OP
Cabinet Brief December 9, 2020

The Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño, met remotely in regular session on Tuesday, December 8th, 2020.

• Cabinet approved $930,000 for a special December COVID-19 Relief Fund to be equitably distributed among 31 constituencies to assist disadvantaged Belizeans. The Hon. Dolores Balderamos Garcia, Minister of Human Development, Families and Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, informed Cabinet that funds for the Food Assistance Program (FAP) were completely depleted prior to the general elections leaving the Program substantially out of funds for the remainder of the financial year.

Additionally, Cabinet approved allocation of resources necessary to fund the FAP for December and agreed that the Minister of Finance along with the Minister of Human Development will examine the possibility of additional funding for continuation of the Program.

• The establishment of a Diaspora Relations Unit under the Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Relations was approved by Cabinet to develop, engage, and strengthen the linkages between the Government and Belizeans living abroad.

• Cabinet established a subcommittee to review Government’s options in connection with employment contracts of the past administration’s political appointees.

• Cabinet approved the constitution of an Economic Recovery Advisory Team to make recommendations to engineer sustainable economic activity, protect and create jobs, and successfully emerge from the current economic crisis stemming from the 2019 UDP administration recession, the COVID-19 pandemic and weather-related shocks as well as the resulting collapse of the tourism and other sectors of the economy.

Re: Cabinet Briefs [Re: Marty] #546958
12/17/20 11:55 AM
12/17/20 11:55 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP

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Marty  Offline OP
Cabinet Brief December 17, 2020

The Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño, met remotely in regular session on Tuesday, December 15, 2020.

• Cabinet approved the request by Hon. Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs and New Industry, for the recruitment of Intake 95 of the Belize Police Department. This new intake will increase the ranks of the Police Department by 225 new constables. Intake 95 will commence January 2021.

• Cabinet discussed and approved new COVID-19 measures which will be presented to the nation at a press conference hosted by Hon. Michel Chebat, Minister of Health and Wellness, and his team on Friday, December 18, 2020.

• Cabinet approved the formation of a committee to be led by Hon. Andre Perez, Minister of the Blue Economy and Civil Aviation, to review and develop standard operating procedures for passenger entry at the Phillip Goldson International Airport. A significant increase in arrivals is projected for the next few months, and therefore the arrival process must be more efficient.

• Cabinet was briefed by Hon. Dolores Balderamos Garcia, Minister of Human Development, Families and Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, on the roll-out of the Belize COVID-19 Cash Transfer Program (BCCAT). The Minister informed that the program, which is being funded by the World Bank, has begun accepting applications for COVID-19 relief assistance to eligible persons who are not already receiving assistance through BOOST and the COVID Food Assistance Program.

Re: Cabinet Briefs [Re: Marty] #547299
01/05/21 12:52 PM
01/05/21 12:52 PM
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Marty Offline OP

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Marty  Offline OP
Cabinet Brief January 4, 2021

The Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño, met remotely in regular session on Monday, January 4, 2021.

• Cabinet approved the introduction of legislation at the next sitting of the House of Representatives, scheduled for Friday, January 8, 2021, to empower the Central Bank of Belize to provide for emergency programs and facilities to assist during unusual and necessary economic circumstances.

• Cabinet discussed and approved a request by Hon. Orlando Habet, Minister of Sustainable Development, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management, to review all short-term logging licenses issued on national land for the logging season October 2020 to July 2021.

• Cabinet approved the formation of an inter-ministerial committee to review the Misuse of Drugs Legislation to recommend amendments to facilitate the proper development of the hemp industry and to establish a national hemp policy as well as monitoring mechanisms. The committee will include Hon. Jose Abelardo Mai, Minister of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise; Hon. Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs and New Growth Industries; and Hon. Orlando Habet, Minister of Sustainable Development, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management.

• Cabinet approved the introduction of a General Revenue (Supplementary Appropriations) Bill to cover urgent and unforeseen expenditure for the period after November 11, 2020 to March 31, 2021.

• Cabinet approved the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the National Forensic Science Services (NFSS) and the Central American Health Sciences University in order to formalize a working relationship between the two entities. This will ensure that the forensic post-mortem examinations for medicolegal death investigations can continue in a manner that is aligned with the strategic priorities of the NFSS. Additionally, the Coroner’s Act will be repealed and replaced by modern legislation.

• The Prime Minister informed Cabinet that a state funeral will be held in honour of Dr. Dame Elmira Minita Gordon, Belize’s First Governor General.

Re: Cabinet Briefs [Re: Marty] #547517
01/14/21 11:52 AM
01/14/21 11:52 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP

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Marty  Offline OP
Cabinet Brief January 14, 2021

The Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño, met remotely in regular session on Tuesday, January 12, 2021.

• Cabinet approved the addition of Energy to the portfolio of the Ministry of Public Utilities and Logistics. A corrigendum will be published in the next publication of The Gazette to announce that the Ministry will now be known as the Ministry of Public Utilities, Energy and Logistics.

• Hon. Dolores Balderamos Garica, Minister of Human Development Families and Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, updated the Cabinet on the Caribbean Court of Justice judgement No. BZCV2014/002 The Maya Land Leaders Alliance, Toledo Alcalde Association and Others v. the Attorney General of Belize, commonly known as the Maya Land Rights Case. Cabinet took note of the status of Government’s obligation under the Consent Order and agreed that a mechanism be worked out to ensure progress towards compliance of the consent order.

• Cabinet approved the formation of an inter-ministerial committee including Hon. Michel Chebat, Minister of Health and Wellness; Hon. Jose Abelardo Mai, Minister of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise; Hon. Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs and New Growth Industries; and Hon. Anthony Mahler, Minister of Tourism and Diaspora Relations, to review plans and protocols for the reopening of the Corozal Free Zone.

• The Prime Minister informed Cabinet that he would be traveling on personal leave from January 12 to 17, 2021. During his absence, Deputy Prime Minister Hon. Cordel Hyde will act as Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Economic Development.

Re: Cabinet Briefs [Re: Marty] #547836
01/29/21 05:20 AM
01/29/21 05:20 AM
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Marty Offline OP

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Marty  Offline OP
Cabinet Brief January 18, 2021

The Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño, met in regular session on January 26, 2021.

• Cabinet gave its approval for the ratification of three CARIFORUM Bilateral Agreements: a free trade agreement between CARICOM and the Dominican Republic, an agreement on trade, economic and technical cooperation between CARICOM and Venezuela, and an agreement on trade, economic and technical cooperation between CARICOM and Colombia. These agreements were ratified at today’s special sitting of the Senate.

• The Minister of Health and Wellness, Hon. Michel Chebat, will hold a press conference on Friday, January 29, 2021, at 2:00 p.m. to update the public on the COVID-19 situation and to announce new measures.

The Cabinet also received a report from the Minister of Health on proposals for the reopening of the Corozal Free Zone and gave its approval for the resumption of business at the Free Zone on February 1, 2021.

• The Prime Minister informed Cabinet that he signed the order to convene a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the sale of government assets between the period October 2019 to November 2020. The three-member commission will include Mr. E. Andrew Marshalleck, S.C., Chairman; Mr. Luke Martinez, representative of the Public Service Union; and Mr. Marcello Blake, representative of the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

• The Prime Minister will lead budget consultations along with Hon. Anthony Mahler and Hon. Chris Coye and their technical team. The consultations will commence with the private sector and social partners in the first week of February. Additionally, the Prime Minister informed that Hon. Francis Fonseca will lead consultations with the Belize National Teachers Union and the Public Service Union. Minister Fonseca will be joined by the Deputy Prime Minister Hon. Cordel Hyde and Hon. Henry Charles Usher.

• Finally, the Prime Minister informed Cabinet that he will notify the Speaker of the House of Representatives to call for a sitting of the House of Representatives on Friday, February 5, 2021.

Re: Cabinet Briefs [Re: Marty] #547956
02/04/21 05:15 AM
02/04/21 05:15 AM
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Marty Offline OP

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Marty  Offline OP
Cabinet Brief February 3, 2021

The Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño, met in regular session on February 1, 2021.

• The Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño informed Cabinet of the appointment of 11 ambassadors who have been designated to fill bi-lateral and multi-lateral posts abroad. Those designated represent a cross-section of the community and a mix of new and experienced professionals. Notably, 40 percent of the designates are women.

• The Cabinet was appraised of developments to preserve trade preferences with the United Kingdom through the ratification of the CARIFORUM/UK Economic Partnership Agreement which will allow Belize to claim duty-free and quota-free access to the UK market for goods and services. Besides access to traditional goods like bananas and sugar, Government will pursue opportunities for areas of cooperation and private sector investments.

• At the request of the Hon. Oscar Requeña, Minister of Rural Transformation, Community Development, Labour and Local Government, Cabinet approved funding for the long overdue rehabilitation of the Sarteneja Village Water System. The funds will be used to retrofit and repair the reverse osmosis system.

• The Cabinet gave its approval for Belize to become a member of the International Solar Alliance (ISA). The ISA is an intergovernmental organization that works to deepen cooperation on renewable energy, specifically solar energy. Belize would join the 84-member alliance and would benefit from funding, technology and expertise to assist in the country’s ability to exploit its potential in solar energy, thereby, allowing for the production of cheaper and cleaner energy.

• The Cabinet was updated on the establishment of a fast-track unit for private sector investment in the Office of the Prime Minister.

• In connection with its commitment to good governance, Cabinet gave its support to introduce a Motion to Amend the Standing Orders for the House of Representatives. This motion will be presented to House of Representatives at its meeting on Friday, February 5, 2021, and seeks, among other things, to reconstitute the Public Accounts Committee to increase its membership from six to nine by the addition of three social partner senators to its membership.

Re: Cabinet Briefs [Re: Marty] #548135
02/12/21 10:37 AM
02/12/21 10:37 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 77,056
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Marty Offline OP

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Marty  Offline OP
Cabinet Brief February 12, 2021

The Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño, met in regular session on Tuesday, February 9, 2021.

• Cabinet welcomed the mid-term report from the Economic Recovery Advisory Team. The group is tasked with making recommendations to engineer sustainable economic activity and to protect and create jobs to successfully emerge from the current economic crisis. The report was discussed, and nine ministerial working groups were established to review the recommendations and advise on implementation thereof by way of report to Cabinet at its meeting at the end of February for urgent consideration and action.

• Cabinet approved the re-establishment of the National Trade Negotiating Commission (NTNC) which will comprise of representatives from the private sector, civil society and government. This NTNC will serve as a forum for dialogue among public and private sector and to provide advice and make recommendations to Government on trade policy issues, trade agreements and information sharing. In addition, the Commission will, when appropriate, participate in trade negotiating sessions.

• Cabinet also gave its approval for the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Technology to review the Belize Education Sector Reform Project II, a loan project between the Government and the Caribbean Development Bank that provides funding for projects that enhance the learning environment for primary and secondary school students. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cabinet is of the view that this project should be reviewed to ensure optimal benefit to Belizean students.

• Cabinet supported a request by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Immigration for the replacement of the outdated and obsolete passport system with a new and modern e-passport system, including biometric data which will be more secure and allow for greater efficiency.

• As a result of market contraction, the local dairy industry contracted by 53 percent in January 2021. To this end, Cabinet gave its support to set up a working committee to include local producers of dairy products to seek ways to create the environment necessary to foster the growth of a competitive dairy sector and to find ways to make better use of the excess milk in the market.

Re: Cabinet Briefs [Re: Marty] #548232
02/17/21 05:56 PM
02/17/21 05:56 PM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 77,056
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Marty Offline OP

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Marty  Offline OP
Cabinet Brief February 17, 2021

The Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño, met in regular session on Tuesday, February 16, 2021.

• Cabinet received a full report from the Hon. Francis Fonseca, Minister of Education, Culture, Science and Technology, on the consultations held with the unions from February 10 to 12, 2021. Cabinet discussed thoroughly the recommendations and requests for information made by the unions and agreed to urgently provide a comprehensive response and to have follow-up discussions.

• Cabinet received an update on the COVID-19 pandemic and reviewed the plan from the Ministry of Health and Wellness on the rollout of the vaccine. Of special note was the overall decline in COVID-19 cases, which has fallen from an average of 182 positive cases per day to a daily average of 22, bringing the daily positivity rate from 20 percent in November and December to the current average daily positivity rate of 4.5 percent.

With respect to the vaccine, a four-phase rollout plan, which should start by the end of March, was presented to Cabinet. The plan seeks to vaccinate over 200,000 Belizeans in 120 days and will start with healthcare workers, the elderly, vulnerable citizens with mental and physical disabilities, teachers and other frontline persons.

• Cabinet gave its approval for the Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Relations to introduce a long-stay visitor program to allow for extended visitor permits for targeted visitors and nationalities. This program is aimed at encouraging tourists to stay longer through a “Work Where You Vacation” Program. In addition, Cabinet gave its approval for the Ministry of Tourism to expand and improve the Qualified Retired Persons Incentive Program.

• Finally, Government will procure that the stipends paid by public utilities and statutory bodies to non-executive directors be cut by 50% effective March 2021.

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