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Cabinet Briefs

Posted By: Marty

Cabinet Briefs - 11/26/20 11:18 AM

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.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Cabinet Briefs - 12/03/20 11:17 AM

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.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Cabinet Briefs - 12/10/20 10:53 AM

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.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Cabinet Briefs - 12/17/20 05:55 PM

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.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Cabinet Briefs - 01/05/21 06:52 PM

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.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Cabinet Briefs - 01/14/21 05:52 PM

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.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Cabinet Briefs - 01/29/21 11:20 AM

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.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Cabinet Briefs - 02/04/21 11:15 AM

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.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Cabinet Briefs - 02/12/21 04:37 PM

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.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Cabinet Briefs - 02/17/21 11:56 PM

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.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Cabinet Briefs - 03/18/21 10:02 AM

Cabinet Brief March 17, 2021

The Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Honourable John Briceño, met in regular session on March 16, 2021.

• Cabinet received the Joint Union’s response to Government’s proposals to address the dire state of public finances and approved the progression of discussion with the unions in good faith.

• Cabinet received an update from the Ministry of Health and Wellness on the COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Plan and on the first phase of vaccinations. Cabinet welcomed the news that already 10,000 Belizeans have received their first vaccination at the rate of 600 persons per day. This is in line with Government’s plan to vaccinate over 200,000 Belizeans in 120 days.

• Cabinet received a report on the deteriorating position of the Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and endorsed a proposed plan for corrective measures which will enable the DFC to access and provide credit to the productive sectors.

• Finally, Cabinet endorsed the development of a centralized procurement unit within the Ministry of Finance with a view to generate savings of up to BZ$25 million annually.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Cabinet Briefs - 03/25/21 01:22 AM

Cabinet Brief March 24, 2021

The Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño, met in regular session on March 23, 2021.

• The Government of Belize’s Union Budget Consultation Team updated Cabinet on its response to the unions’ latest correspondence and its intent to continue further discussions in good faith.

• Cabinet approved the plan from the Ministry of Education for the phased return to face-to-face instruction of schools at all levels and sectors across the country beginning April 12, 2021.

• Cabinet took note of the efforts being made by the Ministry of Finance, Economic Development and Industry to consolidate and modernize the Company’s Law Framework in Belize, which is a critical step toward improving investor confidence, boosting competitiveness and modernizing this important sector.

• Cabinet approved the National Tourism Recovery Plan presented by the Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Relations which includes plans to place Belize’s tourism sector back on path with pre-pandemic growth trends, motivate the sector to embrace more market centric, digitally inclined and resilient future.

• Cabinet approved the recommendations by the Ministry of the Blue Economy and Civil Aviation for the planned modernization of Belize’s Aviation Safety and Security Oversight System.

The recommendations include:

- Modernizing the oversight system to address the current problems in the system

- Consider future hiring of more aviation professionals that will allow for management of future growth in the aviation industry

- Putting measures in place to allow for revenue collection from aviation activities

- Seek funding for the continued implementation of the modernization of Belize’s aviation safety and oversight system.

• Finally, Cabinet received an update from Hon. Eamon Courtenay, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Immigration, of the results of the successful meeting between the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Belize and the Republic of Guatemala where both ministers expressed a desire to improve the bilateral relationship, especially in the areas of trade and the importance of maintaining dialogue and implementation of the 2005 Confidence Building Measures.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Cabinet Briefs - 04/01/21 10:11 AM

Cabinet Brief March 30, 2021

The Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño, met in regular session on March 30, 2021.

• Cabinet received an update from its union consultation team on the progress of discussions with the Joint Union concerning fiscal adjustment efforts. Further consultations will continue on April 5, 2021.

• Cabinet approved the protocols presented by the Ministry of Health & Wellness for the re-opening of casinos scheduled for April 15, 2021.

• Cabinet approved the extension of the curfew to April 15, 2021.

• The Minister of Health & Wellness informed Cabinet that an additional 33,600 AstraZeneca vaccines would be arriving in Belize on Mach 31, 2021. This is the first shipment of vaccines through the COVAX facility.

• Finally, Cabinet supported the call from the Minister of Home Affairs and New Growth Industries for adherence to all safety measures over the Easter weekend and endorsed the “Easter Safety Three Ws Campaign to wash your hands, wear your mask and watch your distance."
Posted By: Marty

Re: Cabinet Briefs - 04/08/21 10:19 AM

Cabinet Brief April 7, 2021

The Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño, met in regular session on April 6, 2021.

• Cabinet received its latest update from its union consultation team on the discussions with the joint union concerning fiscal adjustment efforts.

• Cabinet welcomed the news from the Ministry of Health and Wellness that more than 23,000 Belizeans have received their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

• Finally, Cabinet gave its approval for a number of bills which will be presented at Friday’s sitting of the House of Representatives.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Cabinet Briefs - 04/23/21 10:11 AM

Cabinet Brief April 20, 2021

• Cabinet was informed that Hon. Henry Charles Usher, Minister of the Public Service, Constitutional and Political Reform, wrote to the Joint Unions requesting their views on his preliminary proposals for the fixing of salaries of public officers in accordance with the Constitution. The Unions responded to the Minister’s letter indicating their position against a salary cut as proposed in the Minister’s letter or otherwise. The Minister of the Public Service, Constitutional and Political Reform informed Cabinet that he would fix the salaries of public officers having regard to the deteriorated state of public finances and the views and suggestions raised by the Joint Unions.

Complementing the decision of the Minister of the Public Service, Constitutional and Political Reform, Cabinet decided that it would take such steps as necessary to grant a land credit in favour of the affected public officers equivalent to 50% of the salary adjustment, which credit may be exercisable on the acquisition of land from government.

Cabinet remains committed to the points set out in its letter of 30th March 2021.

• Cabinet requested that the Minister of Public Utilities, Energy and Logistics review the lease agreement signed by Edmond Castro, the former minister responsible for ports, and Recological Systems Limited for 25 years. This contract was signed on 9th November 2020, two days before the 11th November 2020 General Elections and after the House of Representatives was dissolved.

• Cabinet authorized the delivery of 50,000 tons of sugarcane from Orange Walk and Corozal sugarcane farmers to be milled by the Santander Sugar Group. With this decision, farmers will be able to generate income from sugar cane, which would have otherwise been left standing in the fields.

• Cabinet approved the appointment of a high-level Citrus Working Group to be appointed by the Minister of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise tasked with preparing concrete recommendations to chart the way forward for the Belize Citrus Industry. The Citrus Working Group will include representatives from the two grower associations, Citrus Growers Association and Belize Citrus Mutual, Citrus Products of Belize Limited, Development Finance Corporation, Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Immigration.

• Cabinet gave its approval for the resumption of non-contact sports and for training only for those involved in contact sports as well as to allow for recreational sports. In addition, Cabinet will review the protocols in relation to sporting activities in the coming months with a view to allow for spectator sports.

• Finally, Cabinet gave its approval for further amendments to the Land Utilization Act, Chapter 188, which will be presented at the Sitting of the House of Representatives.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Cabinet Briefs - 04/29/21 10:44 AM

Cabinet Brief April 28, 2021

The Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño, met in regular session on 27th April 2021.

• Minister of the Public Service, Constitutional and Political Reform Hon. Henry Charles Usher informed the Cabinet that he wrote to the Joint Unions on 22nd April outlining Government’s position.

• Cabinet was informed by Hon. Michel Chebat, Minister of Health & Wellness, that to date, 40,000 Belizeans have received their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccination, which is in line with Government’s plan to ensure that 70% of Belizeans who wish to be vaccinated are vaccinated by September.

• Cabinet approved further amendments to Statutory Instrument No. 33 of 2021.

• Cabinet gave its approval for Hon. Oscar Requena, Minister of Rural Transformation, Community Development, Labour and Local Government, to develop and execute a National Child Labour Policy to replace the existing 2009 policy. In addition, Cabinet also supported the request by the Minister to introduce amendments to the Labour Act, Chapter 279 of the Laws of Belize and for the ratification of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention in relation to labour administration and to present outstanding annual reports to the International Labour Office, which is in fulfilment of ILO Convention to which Belize is a signatory.

• Finally, Cabinet welcomed the second half of the report from the Economic Recovery Advisory Committee and agreed to set up a number of ministerial subcommittees to review the recommendations of the advisory committee with a view to fast-track implementation of the recommendations.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Cabinet Briefs - 05/13/21 05:29 PM

Cabinet Brief May 13, 2021

The Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño, met in regular session on 11th May 2021.

• Cabinet received an update from the Ministerial Consultation Team on their recent meetings with the Joint Unions and decided that the Prime Minister will inform the unions of government’s firm position in writing. Additionally, PM Briceño informed that he would address the nation on the position of the Government, as he felt that ALL Belizeans have a right to know the real situation going into this meeting between the parties.

• Cabinet approved the enactment of a modern securities law for Belize that is consistent with international standards. The existence of a comprehensive and sound regulatory framework will enable the much-needed development of a capital market in Belize and bring down the cost of capital by giving potential investors confidence in the Belizean capital market.

• Cabinet gave its approval for the strengthening and upgrading of the National Fire Service of Belize which includes infrastructure improvements in Belize City, Ladyville, Trial Farm, Independence and Placencia villages. In addition, Cabinet gave its approval for the establishment of a National Fire Service Advisory Committee.

• Cabinet gave its approval for the Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Housing to begin the process of incorporating into Belize’s legislative framework standards which will guide the design, planning, permitting and construction of building structures and dwellings in Belize.

• Finally, Cabinet will institute a temporary travel ban on persons who have travelled to or originated from or have transited the Republic of India and the People’s Republic of Bangladesh. This temporary ban is due to the rising numbers of persons in these countries infected with the COVID-19 virus.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Cabinet Briefs - 05/21/21 10:20 AM

Cabinet Brief May 20, 2021

The Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño, met in regular session on 18th May 2021.

• Cabinet received an update from the Ministerial Consultation Team on their last meetings with the Joint Unions and decided that a letter of clarification be sent to the Joint Unions to confirm the five-hour workweek reduction; that the forbearance period to allow for borrowers up to the end of December would apply to the entire portfolio including but not limited to mortgages; requesting that the National Trade Union Congress of Belize propose a nominee to serve on the board of directors of the National Bank of Belize; and to remind the members of the unions that any public officer continuing to strike beyond 14th May will not be paid any salary for any period on strike thereafter.

• Cabinet approved a plan to restructure the core functions of the Belize Bureau of Standards by designating the Supplies Control Act and the compliance component of the Standards Act into a Supplies Control Unit administered by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise, and to appoint a Controller of Supplies in accordance with the Supplies Control Act.

• Cabinet gave its approval for the designation of the remaining national lands within the South Water Caye and Sapodilla Caye marine reserves as mangrove forests reserves. In addition, Cabinet authorized the drafting of legislation that will enable the protection of these national lands. This will help to protect the mangroves on these remaining national lands and will assist in meeting the timeline for corrective measures for Belize to make progress and to address some key issues negatively affecting the status of the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System as a World Heritage Site.

• Cabinet gave its approval for the introduction of legislation to amend the Court of Appeal Act to allow for more than four justices of appeal to be appointed.

• Cabinet gave its approval for the reopening of land and sea border points to receive foreign tourists, namely, the Santa Elena Northern Border, Benque Viejo del Carmen Western Border, San Pedro and Punta Gorda borders. The borders will be opened by 31st May for foreign tourists who wish to visit Belize for recreation and vacation purposes. Only tourists who are pre-booked at gold standard certified accommodations will be allowed entry into Belize.

• Finally, Cabinet approved the establishment of the Belize Advisory Safety Policy to allow for improved compliance by Belize in fulfilling its obligations under the International Civil Aviation Convention.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Cabinet Briefs - 06/03/21 10:46 AM

Cabinet Brief June 2nd 2021

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

• Cabinet welcomed the comprehensive Completion Report of the Emergency Works carried out from November 2020 to May 2021 from Hon. Julius Espat, Minister of Infrastructure Development and Housing. The report includes infrastructure works conducted after the passing of hurricanes ETA and IOTA and funds Cabinet approved to urgently restore and repair countrywide damage to roadways and road infrastructure and to make repairs to the national road network and streets that were already in a state of disrepair due to years of neglect.

• Hon. Cordel Hyde, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Natural Resources, Petroleum and Mining, informed Cabinet about the technical challenges faced by Belize for managing the growing volumes of waste, the challenges in waste collection services, particularly in relation to rural communities, and the lack of adequate recycling programs and insufficient management practices at disposal sites.

Cabinet gave its full support for the establishment of an inter-ministerial committee to find ways to develop a plan to address these important waste management issues.

• Hon. Anthony Mahler, Minister of Tourism and Diaspora Relations, reported on his visit to the northern border and his exchange with the Mexican press in relation to the 31st May 2021 phased reopening of land and sea border points to receive foreign tourists, namely, the Santa Elena Northern Border, Benque Viejo del Carmen Western Border, San Pedro and Punta Gorda borders for foreign tourists who wish to visit Belize for recreation and vacation purposes. Only tourists who are pre-booked at Gold Standard Certified accommodations for a period of no less than three days will be allowed entry into Belize.

• Finally, the Prime Minister informed Cabinet that he was departing the country on Tuesday, 1st June 2021, to Guatemala City for an official visit with President Alejandro Giammattei Falla and that he would return to Belize on Thursday, 3rd June 2021. During his absence Hon. Cordel Hyde, Deputy Prime Minister, will act as Prime Minister.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Cabinet Briefs - 06/18/21 10:08 AM

Cabinet Brief June 17th 2021

The Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño, met in regular session on 15th June 2021.

• Cabinet received a report on the Prime Minister’s first official visit to Guatemala, where discussions were held on trade, security cooperation, migration, support for the Organization of American State’s Office in the Adjacency Zone and the improvement of bilateral relations through the work of the Joint Commission. In addition, the Prime Minister met with the Guatemalan Chamber of Commerce and Industry where he welcomed private investments to Belize. The Prime Minister also met with Belizeans studying in Guatemala.

• Hon. Eamon Courtenay, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Immigration, briefed Cabinet on recent actions taken by the Government of Nicaragua against important opposition leaders. Belize has issued a statement along with Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama, the Dominican Republic, and Spain, reminding the Government of Nicaragua that actions against important opposition leaders threaten the free exercise of democracy.

• In reference to the standardization of working hours for the Public Service as a part of government’s undertaking with the unions on the reduction of working hours, Cabinet decided on the opening hours for government offices to the public. The new hours of operation are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. from Monday to Thursday and 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Friday, and as an exception, may include rotation schedules if deemed necessary or other alternative work arrangements outside of indicated hours.

• Cabinet applauded the report from the Ministry of Agriculture that the 2021 vegetable crop was one of the most successful in recent years. This year’s crop was completely sold out and farmers welcomed the ministry’s intervention in controlling imports. This is in line with government’s farm-to-table initiative to promote eating what you grow and growing what you eat, as outlined in Plan Belize.

• Cabinet endorsed a pilot project from the Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Housing to provide housing for the most vulnerable Belizeans and to construct a small number of low-income houses per district this fiscal year. This is in keeping with Plan Belize, which seeks to provide citizen accessibility to adequate, affordable, quality housing.

• Cabinet approved a request by the Ministry of Health & Wellness to increase efficiency of revenue collection at government-run hospitals by standardizing fees across the public health facilities and implementing a social program for low-income earners and the indigent population.

Additionally, Cabinet approved the promotion of 37 essential nurse specialists in all categories and welcomed the initiative by the ministry to grant 50 Scholarships for persons wishing to study nursing.

• Cabinet endorsed the National Trade Facilitation Implementation Roadmap to improve the technical capacity of the government in identifying important measures to reform Belize’s performance and improve the competitiveness of our industries.

• Cabinet welcomed the report from the Minister of Tourism and Diaspora Relations that cruise tourism will return to Belize with the first port of call on 7th July 2021. In this regard, Cabinet appointed a ministerial subcommittee comprised of the Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Relations and the Ministry of Health & Wellness to develop a set of COVID-19 protocols to ensure safe entry of cruise tourists to Belize".
Posted By: Marty

Re: Cabinet Briefs - 07/01/21 01:54 AM

Cabinet Brief June 30th 2021

The Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño, met in regular session on 29th June 2021.

• Cabinet received an update from health professionals at the Ministry of Health & Wellness on the current state of affairs with respect to COVID-19 including the announcement of a ramped-up vaccination campaign and recommendations for new measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

• Cabinet was apprised of the challenges Belize and other member states in CARICOM face in advancing the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) integration process. To this end, Cabinet took note of the actions necessary to overcome those challenges and approved the appointment of persons in various ministries to support the work to implement policies relevant to Belize regarding the CSME.

• Cabinet approved amendments to the Tax Administration and Procedure Act to enable the Belize Tax Services Department to better pursue tax defaulters both criminally and civilly.

• Cabinet gave its approval for the introduction of key E-Governance Legislation relating to electronic transactions, data sharing and protection, and a new Electronic Transfer of Funds Crime Bill.

• Finally, Cabinet approved the amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Act that would provide for the creation of a regulated and responsible cannabis industry for Belize.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Cabinet Briefs - 07/08/21 10:17 AM

Cabinet Brief July 6th 2021

The Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño, met in regular session on 6th July 2021.

• Cabinet was briefed by Samantha Matute-Tucker, Assistant Solicitor General, in relation to the undertaking of the Government to adopt affirmative measures, in consultation with the Maya people or their representatives, to identify and protect the rights of the Maya customary laws and land tenure.

• Cabinet approved its first fiscal incentive to Caye Chapel Company Limited to develop Caye Chapel into a luxury destination branded as a Four Seasons Resort, including a 100-room hotel that would employ over 400 Belizeans. Additionally, over 200 Belizeans are expected to be employed during the construction of the condominium-style rooms, spas, golf course, restaurant, marina, and airstrip. The owners have already invested over BZ$100 million and expect to receive revenues of more than BZ$125 million annually over the next five years.

• Hon. Michel Chebat, Minister of Health & Wellness, reported to Cabinet that since the 30th June roll-out of the vaccine campaign, 12,340 vaccines were issued countrywide. As of 5th July 2021, 93,275 persons have received their first vaccine and 34,341 have received both doses.

The Minister of Health & Wellness reported to Cabinet that due to the rising number of cases in the Toledo District, a two-week lockdown of Barranco, Conejo and Midway villages was put in place as of Friday, 2nd July. Since the lockdown, food hampers have been delivered to villagers every four days and a weekly stipend of $150.00 is being given to every household in the affected villages.

• Cabinet gave its approval for the establishment of an entertainment and recreation park with a Designated Processing Area (DPA) in the area where the casinos are located at the northern Belize border with Mexico. This is to allow for the area to be transitioned into a Special Border Entertainment and Recreation Zone to take advantage of the opportunity that exists in developing the tourism potential in the area.

• Hon. Jose Abelardo Mai, Minister of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise, informed Cabinet that he will lead a delegation to Chetumal, Mexico, on 8th July 2021, to hold talks on trade and agriculture with his Mexican counterparts.

• Finally, the Prime Minister informed Cabinet that he will be travelling to the U.S. to meet with António Guterres, UN Secretary-General. The meeting with the Secretary-General will include various issues including climate change, Belize’s work on the Economic and Social Council, security, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Guatemalan claim to Belizean territory, which is now before the International Court of Justice. During his absence, the Hon. Cordel Hyde, Deputy Prime Minister, will act as Prime Minister.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Cabinet Briefs - 07/15/21 10:19 AM

Cabinet Brief July 13th 2021

The Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño, met in regular session on 13th July 2021.

• Cabinet received a report from Hon. Jose Abelardo Mai, Minister of Agriculture & Enterprise, on his recent bilateral meeting with Dr. Victor Manuel Villalobos Arambula, Secretary of Agriculture of Mexico. Successful discussions were held on a number of issues ranging from the restart of the exportation of shrimp to Mexico, expansion of cattle exports into Mexico, collaboration on the production of soy beans as well as the possibility of collaboration on pitahaya and soursop production for export and additional support for Belize’s coconut and citrus industries.

• Hon. Michel Chebat, Minister of Health & Wellness, informed the Cabinet that as of Monday, 12th July 2021, 107,617 or 25% of Belizeans had received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 39,463 or 9% had been fully vaccinated. In the first week of the new vaccination campaign, a record 19,111 persons were vaccinated.

• After receiving an update on the number of new COVID-19 infections, Cabinet gave its approval to extend the lockdown in the southern villages of Barranco, Midway and Conejo until 31st July 2021.

• Cabinet gave its approval for the upgrade of the water system in San Antonio Village in the Toledo District. This measure is being taken to meet current demand for water due to the number of residents in the village.

• Cabinet approved the signing of the revised Constitutive Agreement of the Mundo Maya Organization and appointed Hon. Anthony Mahler, Minister of Tourism & Diaspora Relations, to sign the revised agreement on behalf of the Government.

• Finally, Cabinet gave its approval for the Belize Intellectual Property Office (BELIPO) to adopt the Harmonized Database of acceptable goods and services for the classification of trademark applications.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Cabinet Briefs - 07/22/21 10:26 AM

Cabinet Brief July 20th 2021

The Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño, met in regular session on 20th July 2021.

• Cabinet received a report from Hon. Michel Chebat, Minister of Health & Wellness, on the rising number of COVID-19 detections and approved new measures and restrictions which will come into effect on Sunday, 25th July 2021.

• Cabinet received an update from Hon. Henry Charles Usher, Minister of the Public Service, Constitutional and Political Reform, on the redistricting exercise and urged that a plan be finalized and presented to Cabinet.

• Cabinet discussed the June 2021 Trafficking in Persons Report and approved steps to improve performance in combatting this issue in Belize, calling on all relevant ministries to implement the recommendations made in the report where appropriate. In addition, Cabinet restored funding to enable implementation of the plan.

• Cabinet approved the completion and validation of the protocols for accompanied and unaccompanied migrant children in Belize. This protocol requires validation prior to its implementation and is guided by national, regional, and international conventions and gives priority to children’s right to life, survival, security and shelter.

• Cabinet gave its approval to conduct an exercise for the re-delineation of municipal boundaries for Dangriga, Corozal, Orange Walk, San Pedro, San Ignacio/Santa Elena, Benque Viejo and Punta Gorda towns. This is in support of a 2012 request by the Belize Mayors’ Association to re-delineate municipal boundaries.

• Hon. Oscar Requena, Minister of Rural Transformation, Community Development, Labour & Local Government, informed Cabinet that he received a letter from the President of the Christian Workers’ Union (CWU), dated 13th July 2021, informing that the CWU was invoking the 21 days’ notice to institute industrial action against the Port of Belize Limited (PBL). In response, the Labour Commissioner will meet with the parties to develop a protocol on how the talks will proceed and scheduled the first meeting for 20th July 2021.

Cabinet took note of recent developments and requested that the Labour Commissioner extend all efforts to mediate a successful outcome in the deliberations between the CWU and PBL.

• Hon. Florencio Marin, Jr., Minister of National Defence & Border Security, reported to Cabinet on his recent working visit to New Orleans, Louisiana, in the United States, where he and his delegation were hosted by the U.S. Military to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the State Partnership Program between Belize and the Louisiana National Guard.

During his visit, Minister Marin and his delegation met with the High Command of the Louisiana National Guard and were appraised of the State Partnership Program between the Belize Defence Force (BDF), the Belize Coast Guard and the Louisiana National Guard.

Minister Marin discussed matters of cooperation between Belize and the Louisiana National Guard, including training opportunities, sharing of expertise, and assistance to the Belize Youth Challenge Programme. In recognition and in honour of the 25th Anniversary of the State Partnership Program, Belize received commendation from Governor John Bel Edwards of Louisiana.

The delegation included Hon. Oscar Mira, Minister of State; Ret’d Brigadier General Dario Tapia, CEO; Rear Admiral John Borland, Chief of Defence Staff; Brigadier General Steven Ortega, Commander of the BDF; Commander Gregory Soberanis, Acting Commandant of the Belize Coast Guard; and Force Sergeant Major Wilfredo Majano of the BDF.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Cabinet Briefs - 08/13/21 10:31 AM

Cabinet Brief August 10, 2021

The Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño, met in regular session on 10th August 2021.

• Cabinet received an update from the Ministry of Health & Wellness informing that Belize is currently experiencing its third wave of COVID-19. In addition, reports received from the Central Medical Laboratory on 9th August 2021 indicate the presence of the following variants in Belize: Alpha, Gamma and Delta. In response to the presence of the very active Delta variant, Cabinet agreed to extend the current regulations, including the 9:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. curfew until 31st August 2021.

• Cabinet was apprised of the status of vaccines and the number of vaccines available in Belize. As of 9th August 2021, 141,770 or 32 percent of the population had received at least one dose of the vaccine and 56,330 or 13 percent of the population had been fully vaccinated.

• Cabinet requested the Attorney General seek medical expertise from the Ministry of Health & Wellness to explore all necessary legal measures that the government may lawfully implement to help contain the spread of COVD-19, including options to implement mandatory coronavirus vaccinations for both the public and private sectors or to require vaccination passes for the use of public spaces and for business facilities.

• Finally, Cabinet asked the Attorney General to explore the increase in penalties for offences relating to the spread of falsehoods, in particular the spread of disinformation on public health matters.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Cabinet Briefs - 08/19/21 10:30 AM

Cabinet Brief August 18, 2021

The Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño, met in regular session on 17th August 2021.

• Cabinet was apprised by the Ministry of Health & Wellness on the current situation at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital and the national response to the third wave of COVID-19. So far this year the virus has claimed 63 lives, six in the past week alone and is putting a strain on the health system. In response to the request from the Ministry of Health & Wellness, Cabinet has agreed to additional COVID-19 measures that will be released by the Ministry of Health & Wellness. Cabinet urges all Belizeans who have not yet been vaccinated to get vaccinated. Vaccinations save lives.

• Cabinet was updated on the status of vaccines and the number of vaccines available in Belize. As of 16th August 2021, 149,428 or 34.7 percent of the population had received at least one dose of the vaccine. This represents an increase of 7,658 new vaccinations over last week’s numbers. As of 16th August 2021, 61,567 or 14.3 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated, an increase of 5,237 more Belizeans have been fully vaccinated over last week’s 56,330.

• On 18th August 2021, 111,000 Pfizer vaccines arrived in Belize to be followed by 112,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccines on 21st August 2021. This first allotment of the Pfizer vaccines will be used primarily to vaccinate the 58,000 Belizean youth between the ages of 12 to 17 years old.

• The Minister of Rural Transformation, Community Development, Labor & Local Government informed Cabinet that negotiations between the Christian Workers Union and the Port of Belize over the collective bargaining agreement between the staff of the Port of Belize were progressing steadily towards a successful outcome and that the matter involving the stevedores was now before the Labour Tribunal.

• Cabinet gave its approval to make the necessary amendments to the current Trade License Regime to complete the Trade License Reform and prepare the necessary legislative amendments.

• Cabinet endorsed the enactment of Medical Waste Regulations to tackle the long-standing human, health and environmental challenge concerning the disposal of medical waste to be implemented and enforced by the Department of the Environment.

• Cabinet endorsed the timeline of activities set out by the Statistical Institute of Belize to prepare for the conduct of the May 2022 Population and Housing Census and to provide the necessary funding to conduct the census.

• Recognizing that the citrus industry is critical to Belize’s socioeconomic development, Cabinet approved the allocation of $15 million in loan financing disbursed through the DFC for the industry. This financing facility will be disbursed over a three-year period at interest rates ranging from 5.5 to 8 percent for implementing short- and medium-term programs necessary for the revitalization of the citrus industry.

• Cabinet approved the lifting of the ban on visas for nationals of India and Bangladesh and requested that the Attorney General draft the appropriate statutory instrument.

• Finally, Cabinet is asking all Belizeans to remain alert, especially those in the northern districts as Hurricane Grace draws closer to the Yucatan Peninsula. Information from the National Meteorological Service of Belize indicates that at 3:00 p.m. today, Hurricane Grace was 317 miles east northeast of Corozal Town or 330 miles northeast of Belize City. Hurricane Grace is expected to make landfall somewhere between Playa del Carmen and Tulum, Mexico early morning on 19th August and will impact Belize with squally showers and thunderstorms and rains of one to four inches, which will come mostly behind the system.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Cabinet Briefs - 08/26/21 09:44 AM

Cabinet Brief August 25, 2021

The Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño, met in regular session on 24th August 2021.

• Cabinet welcomed the news that Belizean Contractor M&M Ltd. was chosen for the construction of a new bridge across the Belize River to replace the Haulover Bridge at a cost of BZ$30 million. This is BZ$29 million less than the original bid of BZ$59 under the past UDP Administration for the construction of the bridge.

• Cabinet was apprised by the Ministry of Health & Wellness on the roll-out of the Pfizer vaccination for Belizeans between the ages of 12 and 17. As of Tuesday morning, 24th August, which marked the nationwide vaccine roll-out for students, 1,492 Pfizer vaccines were administered to students in Belize, Corozal and Orange Walk districts.

• Cabinet was updated on the status of vaccines and the number of vaccines available in Belize. As of 16th August 2021, 153,225 persons or 35.6% of the population had received at least one dose of the vaccine. This represents an increase of 7,658 new vaccinations over last week’s numbers. Additionally, 61,567 or 14.3% of the population has been fully vaccinated, an increase of 5,237 more persons over last week’s 56,330.

• On 26th August 2021, Belize will receive 112,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccines through the African Platform. These vaccines will be added to the other vaccines currently being distributed across Belize. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a one-shot vaccine and will be available to Belizeans in the coming days. Vaccines save lives so all Belizeans are urged to get vaccinated.

• Cabinet endorsed the updated National Determined Contributions (NDC) to be presented by the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management, which embodies Belize’s efforts to reduce national greenhouse gas emissions while adapting to climate change. The updated NDC is the nation’s plan to address climate change and partial fulfillment of Belize’s commitment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

• Cabinet gave its approval for Belize to accede to the agreement establishing the Caribbean Customs Organization and on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Customs Matters. This agreement formally enables and fosters cooperation among its member Customs Departments for the exchange of sensitive information, customs modernization and otherwise to achieve greater efficiencies in revenue collection, trade facilitation and law enforcement.

• Cabinet was updated on the current status in the implementation of the new ePassport system and ePassports and approved the base concept of the ePassport design proposal, which should pave the way for the new passport system to be introduced in July 2022.

• Cabinet endorsed signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Ministry of Youth, Sports and E-Governance and Harvest Trading Cap Academy for the launch of a youth scholarship program in financial markets training in Belize for 5,000 youths to assist in fostering youth entrepreneurship. These scholarships will be funded by the Harvest Trading Cap Academy.

• Cabinet gave its full support and endorsement to the Belize Education Sector Strategy Plan 2021-2025 that was presented by the Hon. Francis Fonseca, Minister of Education, Culture, Science & Technology.

• Finally, Cabinet is asking all Belizeans to remain alert, as yet another system forms in the southwestern Caribbean and will move closer to our area over the next two days as a weak tropical depression. This system is expected to bring rains and flooding, especially in the northern part of the country over the course of the weekend. The National Emergency Management Organization continues to monitor the system and will provide timely updates to the nation.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Cabinet Briefs - 09/02/21 10:39 AM

Cabinet Brief August 31, 2021

The Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño, met in regular session on 31st August 2021.

• Cabinet was updated on the status of vaccines and the number of vaccines available in Belize. As of 31st August 2021, 167,596 persons or 38.9 percent of the population had received at least one dose of the vaccine. This represents an increase of 18,168 new vaccinations over last week’s numbers. As of 31st August 2021, 69,924 persons or 16.2 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated, an increase of 8,357 more Belizeans have been fully vaccinated over last week’s 61,567.

• Since the roll out of the Pfizer vaccines, 10,638 Belizeans between the ages of 12 to 17 have received their first shot of the vaccine.

• For the health and wellness of Belizeans, Cabinet directed that all persons wishing to enter Belize through the land borders must be tested for COVID-19 at the points of entry.

• The Minister of Rural Transformation, Community Development, Labour and Local Government informed Cabinet that negotiations between the Christian Workers Union and the Port of Belize over the collective bargaining agreement between the staff of the Port of Belize continue to progress. A draft of the agreement is currently being finalized between the parties. In relation to stevedores, the meeting with the Labour Tribunal is scheduled to take place on 6th September 2021.

• Cabinet gave its approval to introduce a bill at Sitting of the House of Representatives on September 3, 2021, to amend the Summary Jurisdiction (Offences) Act Chapter 98 of the Substantive Laws of Belize to increase the penalty for the offence of spreading or publishing false news from a penalty of up to $300 or imprisonment of up to six months to $3000 or imprisonment of up to six months in the first instance.

• Cabinet gave its approval to amend the Court of Appeal Act and Court Rules to allow the Court to exercise its discretion as the Justice of the case requires on applications to extend time for appeals.

• Cabinet approved the restructuring and updating of the Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA) regulations to address the removal of outdated technical terms; restructuring of regulations to ensure easy interpretation and applications; addition of regulation of new services fees; updating of fees to reflect the real cost of doing business and increasing rate of fines and penalties to foster compliance.

• Cabinet approved an extension of the Kolbe Foundation’s Management contract for the Hattieville Prison.

• Finally, Cabinet requested that the Minister of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise instructs the Bureau of Standards to investigate the issue of price gouging at stores across Belize.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Cabinet Briefs - 09/09/21 10:26 AM

Cabinet Brief September 8, 2021

The Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño, met in regular session on 7th September 2021.

• Cabinet was updated on the status of vaccines and the number of vaccines available in Belize. As of 7th September 2021, 173,077 persons or 40.2% of the population had received at least one dose of the vaccine. This represents an increase of 5,481 new vaccinations over last week’s numbers. As of 7th September 2021, 76,279 persons or 17.1% of the population has been fully vaccinated, an increase of 6,365 more Belizeans have been fully vaccinated over last week’s 69,924.

• Since the roll-out of the Pfizer vaccines, 14,875 Belizeans, ages 12 to 17 years, have received their first shot of the vaccine.

• The Prime Minister updated Cabinet on developments in relation to the renegotiations of the Super Bond which, if successful, would eliminate BZ$500 million of public debt or 12 cents of every dollar Belize owes. This is a part of government’s home-grown recovery program with extensive budget benefits in the short-term: providing room for public finance rebound, gross fiscal saving amounting to 5% GDP in the short-term, in line with Plan Belize’s commitment to secure debt relief and public debt reduction.

• Cabinet was briefed on the efforts by the Ministry of Home Affairs and New Growth Industries to get more weapons off the streets and welcomed the news from the Hon. Kareem Musa that 14 illegal weapons were seized. This was done in specific areas of Southside Belize City since the State of Emergency was instituted.

• Hon. Dolores Balderamos Garcia, Minister of Human Development, Families and Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, provided Cabinet with additional pointers on proposals to the general agreement of the Maya Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) Protocol.

• Hon. Francis Fonseca, Minister of Education, Culture, Science and Technology, updated Cabinet on plans for safe and virtual activities in relation to the celebration of St. George’s Caye Day.

• Finally, Cabinet wishes all Belizeans a safe and happy St. George’s Caye Day and reminds everyone to wear masks, social distance, wash hands and encourages those not fully vaccinated to do so. Vaccinations save lives.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Cabinet Briefs - 09/17/21 10:30 AM

Cabinet Brief September 16, 2021

The Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño, met in regular session on 14th September 2021.

• Cabinet was updated on the status of vaccines and the number of vaccines available in Belize. As of 14th September 2021, 176,242 persons or 40% of the population had received at least one dose of the vaccine. This represents an increase of 3,165 new vaccinations over last week’s numbers. As of 14th September 2021, 81,229 persons or 18.8% of the population has been fully vaccinated, an increase of 4,950 over last week’s 74,874.

• Since the roll-out of the Pfizer vaccines, 17,172 Belizeans between the ages of 12 and 17 years have received their first shot of the vaccine.

• Starting, Monday, 20th of September 2021 and for the next two weeks the new measures are as follows:

- A curfew is imposed countrywide from 7:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. except for San Pedro, Caye Caulker, Placencia and Hopkins, where the curfew will remain from 9:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m.

- Restaurants will only be able to provide takeout service, except for restaurants in San Pedro, Caye Caulker, Placencia and Hopkins.

- Casinos and Churches are to be CLOSED.

- NO form of contact sports is allowed.

- Sunday, 26th September and Sunday, 3rd October 2021 will be declared NO MOVEMENT DAYS except for medical attention, to purchase medication, groceries or fuel.

• The Prime Minister informed the Cabinet of the details of the proposed offer by Belize to buy back the Superbond. Cabinet approved the terms and looks forward to a successful uptake by bondholders.

• Cabinet gave its approval for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Immigration to enact regulations for the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) Community Skilled Persons Act for procedures associated with the application, issuance, upgrade, replacement, and verification of skill certificates, for the revocation, surrendering and cancelation of skill certificates; for procedures to be observed when an offence is committed; and for procedures for the maintenance of a register of qualified, skilled CARICOM nationals, and to repeal the fees levied on the appendence of skilled CARICOM nationals.

• Cabinet endorsed the establishment of a gaming and lotteries commission for Belize.

• Cabinet approved the reduction of fees and waiver of overdue fees for persons requiring visa extensions to remain in Belize, and who could not remain current due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

• Finally, Cabinet strongly urges the public to wear masks, maintain physical distance, wash hands regularly, and for those not fully vaccinated to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Vaccinations save lives.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Cabinet Briefs - 10/07/21 12:04 AM

Cabinet Brief 6th October 2021

The Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño, met in regular session on 5th October 2021.

• Cabinet met with a few members of the COVID-19 Health Advisory Task Force for an update on the status of the COVID-19 pandemic and to make recommendations for the coming months. The group of medical doctors advised Cabinet that while progress was being made in terms of the number of persons vaccinated, the public must continue to take all precautions since this third wave has not yet peaked. In addition, the team of doctors presented a series of recommendations, for Cabinet’s consideration, to aid in preventing the spread of COVID-19. These recommendations would cover the period from October to December 2021 and will be announced shortly by the Ministry of Health & Wellness.

• In an effort to better control the outbreak of COVID-19, Cabinet approved the establishment of a COVID-19 Enforcement Unit within the Ministry of Health & Wellness to oversee responsibilities for the maintenance of supervision and enforcement of COVID-19 protocols in all businesses and other establishments.

• Cabinet was updated on the status of vaccinations and the number of vaccines available in Belize. As of 3rd October 2021, 198,580 persons or 48 percent had received at least one dose of the vaccine and 139,157 persons or 34 percent have been fully vaccinated.

• Cabinet approved a three-pronged approach to crime prevention that is centered on social development, change behavior and violence interrupter components complemented by evidence-based policing presented by the ministries of Home Affairs, Youth and Human Development.

• Cabinet gave its approval for Belize to accede to the Madrid Protocol for the international registration of marks administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization and for the implementation of the Madrid Protocol into the domestic legal framework and for the Belize Intellectual Property Office personnel to be trained in preparation of the full implementation of this Protocol (BELIPO). This will require a review and amendment to the existing Trademark legislation and training of personnel at BELIPO.

• Cabinet approved an initiative by the Ministry of Youth, Sports & E-Governance to provide for youth mainstreaming in Belize. Youth mainstreaming is a strategy which provides young people with opportunities to partake in skills training and other important roles as a means of becoming involved in the leadership of society in the future. Many young people need training in areas that cannot be provided by the private sector of our society but which can be provided by government departments such as Fisheries, Health, Mining and Geology so that they can gain experience or become interested in the future with the aim that they will be the leaders in those areas as well as mainstream society.

• Cabinet gave its approval for Amendment to the Customs and Excise Tariff Introduction of Phase 8 of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) Trade Agreement with the European Union (EU) and approved legislation for the implementation of this phase of the EPA which will result in the removal of import duties from goods from EU countries.

• The Ministry responsible for New Growth Industries was given approval to form a working group to facilitate the development of a National Cohune Industry. This working group will comprise stakeholders and representatives from the ministries of Energy, Economic Development, Trade, Local Government, Immigration, Sustainable Development and New Growth Industries and has been tasked with coordinating and supporting initial investment and incentive requests of the cohune industry.

• In partial fulfilment of its Plan Belize Manifesto promise to make it easy and transparent to conduct business in Belize by eliminating meaningless and excessive bureaucracy and to modernize systems and processes for greater efficiency, Cabinet gave its approval for an addendum to the 2010 Temporary Employment Permit Policy to allow for the processing of applications for temporary employment permits in a more expeditious manner.

• Finally, Cabinet strongly urges the public to wear masks, maintain physical distance and wash hands regularly. For those not fully vaccinated, get vaccinated as soon as possible. Vaccinations save lives.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Cabinet Briefs - 10/14/21 10:36 AM

Cabinet Brief 12th October 2021

The Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño, met in regular session on 12th October 2021.

• Cabinet was updated on the status of vaccinations and the number of vaccines available in Belize. As of 12th October 2021, 201,952 persons or 46.9 percent of the total population had received at least one dose of the vaccine and 153,982 or 35.8 percent had been fully vaccinated. Of the youth population between the ages of 12 to 17 years of age, 26,862 or 46 percent had received at least one dose of the vaccine and 16,846 or 29 percent had been fully vaccinated. Currently, there are more than 250,000 vaccines in stock including Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. An additional 53,000 Pfizer vaccines will be arriving shortly via the United States of America through the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) initiative.

• Cabinet gave its approval for the Ministry of Public Utilities, Energy and Logistics to conduct a review of the fees in the Motor Vehicle and Road Traffic Order of 2003 and to conduct a pre-feasibility analysis for the construction of bus terminals countrywide.

• Cabinet gave its approval for the Ministry of the Blue Economy and Civil Aviation to develop and promote the Belize Civil Aviation Regulation 17 relating to civil aviation security. This will allow for the regulation of all matters pertaining to aviation security in Belize and to work towards the implementation of recommendations to be followed by Belize to meet the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Cabinet also gave its approval for the Blue Economy and Civil Aviation to establish a strategic plan for the Civil Aviation Sector in Belize for the period 2022 to 2026.

• Hon. Oscar Requena, Minister of Rural Transformation, Community Development, Labor & Local Government, received the approval of Cabinet to implement trade licensing reforms in all municipalities and villages. The reforms will modernize and standardize the trade licensing regime. Additionally, villages will for the first time be able to charge trade licensing fees. The amendments will now be forwarded to the Attorney General's Ministry for legal drafting.

• Hon. Anthony Mahler, Minister of Tourism and Diaspora Relations, reported to the Cabinet on his recent trip to United States of America to connect and engage with Belizeans. The diaspora engagements included four U.S. cities: Houston, Texas; Chicago, Illinois; Miami, Florida; and New York City. The delegation met with hundreds of Belizeans and discussed a range of issues including crime, banking, the COVID-19 pandemic, repatriation matters and other social issues.

• The Prime Minister was invited by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico to participate in activities in celebration of the 200th Anniversary of Independence. The Prime Minister was also invited to be the guest of honor at the celebration of the 256th birthday of the national hero José María Morelos y Pavón. Along with his delegation, the Prime Minister held several meetings with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, COPARMEX (the Association of Chambers of Commerce of Mexico), the Bank of Mexico, FONATUR (The National Tourism Development Fund).

• During his visit, the Prime Minister also met with H.E. Ahmed Almenhali, ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to Belize, to discuss several cooperation issues between the two countries. A bilateral meeting was also held between the heads of state, the Foreign Minister Hon. Eamon Courtenay and ambassadors.

• H.E. Rossana Briceño, Special Envoy for the Development of Families and Children, also met with María del Rocío García Pérez, Mexico’s director general of the National System for the Development of Families and Children.

• Finally, Cabinet continues to strongly urge the public to wear masks, maintain physical distance, wash hands regularly, and for those not fully vaccinated to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Vaccinations save lives.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Cabinet Briefs - 10/21/21 10:16 AM

Cabinet Brief 19th October 2021

The Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño, met in regular session on 19th October 2021.

• Cabinet was updated on the status of vaccinations and the number of vaccines available in Belize. As of 18th October 2021, 203,819 persons or 47.37 percent of the total population had received at least one dose of the vaccine and 165,542 or 37.4 percent had been fully vaccinated. Belize now ranks second among the Caribbean states in the percentage of the population fully vaccinated. Currently, there are more than 245,000 vaccines in stock, Pfizer – 29,508, AstraZeneca – 90,800 and Johnson & Johnson-114,000.

• Cabinet gave its approval of recommendations from the Ministry of Health & Wellness to amend the Public Health Act to change the structure of the ministry to allow for a Director of Public Health and Wellness as well as a Director of Hospital Services. In addition, Cabinet approved the recommendation by the Minister of Health & Wellness to increase the size of Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (KHMH) Board to allow for a representative of the KHMH Workers Union to join the KHMH Board of Governors.

• Cabinet authorized the steps necessary to complete the cancellation of the $1.1 billion-plus superbonds and to enter into the Blue Bond loan for the payment of the superbonds at a discounted 55 cents on the dollar. This includes the passing of the necessary National Assembly resolutions and the Blue Bond Loan Bill.

• Cabinet supported recommendations from the Ministry of Human Development, Families and Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs to introduce legislation for strengthening the juvenile justice system by removing status offences by repealing the Certified Institutions Bill, to support amendments to the Juvenile Offenders Bill and to support amendments to the Families and Children Bill. Taken together, this will be a huge step towards compliance with the Convention of the Rights of the Child by moving Belize beyond a system that criminalizes children for status offences to a state that recognizes the vulnerabilities of children who commit status and criminal offences and affords the opportunity to receive the protection and services they require.

• Finally, Cabinet strongly urges the public to wear masks, maintain physical distance, wash hands regularly, and for those not fully vaccinated to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Vaccinations save lives.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Cabinet Briefs - 10/29/21 10:38 AM

Cabinet Brief 28th October 2021

The Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño, met in regular session on 27th October 2021.

• Cabinet approved a draft Public Private Partnership (PPP) policy and the creation of a PPP Unit to mobilize private sector capital that support large-scale investment in infrastructure and other development projects that align with government’s policy priorities for public benefit.

• Cabinet expressed concern about the rising cost of fuel and, in that regard, agreed to a team to look at possible mitigation measures.

• Cabinet gave the approval for the Ministry of Economic Development (MED), as the National Designated Authority, to seek accreditation to the Green Climate Fund (GCF). The MED will be seeking accreditation to access up to US$50 million for programmes and projects. This will enable the Government of Belize to continue transitioning the country’s economy from traditional to more modern along a low-emission, climate-resilient pathway towards true sustainable development.

• Cabinet was updated on the status of vaccinations and the number of vaccines available in Belize. As of 27th October 2021, 205,502 persons or 47.7 percent had received at least one dose of the vaccine and 177,455 or 41.2 percent have been fully vaccinated.

• Effective immediately, Cabinet approved booster shots for all healthcare workers, persons 60 years and older, and for persons with comorbidities.

• Finally, Cabinet strongly urges the public to wear masks, maintain physical distance, wash hands regularly, and for those not fully vaccinated to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Vaccines save lives.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Cabinet Briefs - 11/11/21 11:19 AM

Cabinet Brief 10th November 2021

The Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño, met in regular session on 9th November 2021.

• Cabinet endorsed the National Digital Agenda for the period 2022 to 2025 called “Towards a Digital Belize.” This agenda seeks to build trust in government services by simplifying procedures, improving service delivery, and facilitating economic recovery through digitalization. Managed through the Ministry of Youth, Sports & E-Governance, the National Digital Agenda will result in a more open, efficient, and effective government, thereby representing the integration of ICT at all levels of society.

• Cabinet gave the approval for the Ministry of Infrastructure Development & Housing to work with the Attorney General’s Ministry to make amendments to the Belize Building Act to adequately monitor and regulate construction and construction activities within Belize as well as to amend Statutory Instrument No. 96 to adjust the schedule of fees and guidelines that govern payment to the Central Building Authority and on its Municipal Building Units.

• Cabinet was updated on the status of vaccinations and the number of vaccines available in Belize. Currently, there are more than 370,000 vaccines on hand. As of 8th November 2021, 207,092 persons or 48.1 percent had received at least one dose of the vaccine and 186,418 or 43.3 percent have been fully vaccinated. Additionally, Cabinet approved the Taiwanese COVID-19 vaccine, Medigen, as an entry requirement for Taiwanese entering Belize.

• Cabinet approved recommendations from the Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Relations to make certain adjustments to the current COVID-19 public health measures to take effect 22nd November 2021. These measures will be published shortly by the Ministry of Health & Wellness.

• Finally, Cabinet continues to encourage booster shots for all health care workers, persons 60 years and older, and persons with comorbidities. The public is strongly urged to wear masks, maintain physical distance, wash hands regularly, and for those not fully vaccinated to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Vaccines save lives.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Cabinet Briefs - 11/18/21 05:15 PM

Cabinet Brief 18th November 2021

The Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño, met in regular session on 16th November 2021.

• Cabinet gave its approval for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Immigration to support a recommendation by the CARICOM Secretariat to migrate from the present system, that use on-premises infrastructure, to a cloud-based platform to provide online services for the Caribbean Community.

• With the increase of flights into Belize and the start of the 2021 tourism season where record high arrivals are anticipated at the Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport, Cabinet gave the approval for the Ministry of Immigration to employ six additional immigration clerks and to increase overtime payment for immigration officers from 50 to 75 hours.

• Cabinet gave its approval for the Attorney General’s Ministry to present amendments to the Law Revision Act, Chapter 3 of the Substantive Laws of Belize primarily to allow for the publication of the revised edition of the laws of Belize to be done electronically. The final draft of the bill is to be tabled at the next sitting of the House of Representatives.

• Cabinet was updated on the status of vaccinations and the number of vaccines available in Belize. Currently, there are more than 373,868 vaccines on hand. As of 15th November 2021, 208,168 persons or 48.3 percent had received at least one dose of the vaccine and 190,031 or 41.1 percent have been fully vaccinated. Additionally, 4,020 booster shots have been issued since the start of the booster shot program and is now opening booster shots to everyone. Also, the free testing sites, which were scheduled to close at the end of November, will continue to operate countrywide until the end of the year.

• The Minister of Health & Wellness also informed Cabinet that this year alone the ministry issued close to $700,000 in food assistance to persons who had to go into isolation due to COVID-19.

• Cabinet approved recommendations from the Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Relations to make certain adjustments to the current COVID-19 public health measures to take effect 22nd November 2021. These measures will be published shortly by the Ministry of Health & Wellness.

• Finally, Cabinet wishes all Belizeans a safe and happy Garifuna Settlement Day and asks that everyone wears masks, maintains physical distance, washes hands regularly, and for those not fully vaccinated to do so as soon as possible. Vaccines save lives.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Cabinet Briefs - 11/25/21 11:22 AM

Cabinet Brief 24th November 2021

The Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño, met in regular session on 23rd November 2021.

• Cabinet instructed the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise to conduct a study into the rising cost of living. In addition, Cabinet instructed the minister to introduce legislation at the next sitting of the House of Representatives ensuring that all necessary legal mechanisms are in place for the relevant authority to pursue merchants and shop owners engaged in price gouging.

• The Prime Minister along with the Ministerial Consultative Team convened the first meeting with the Social Partnership Committee to review government’s performance for the past six months. The consultation was in partial fulfilment of government’s undertaking that was laid out in a letter sent by the Prime Minister to the joint unions dated 18th May 2021. The Ministerial Consultative Team provided an update on the state of government’s finances, held discussions on efforts to achieve government’s Plan Belize agenda on good governance as well as agreed on a term of reference for future meetings including biennial meetings of the Social Partnership Committee.

• Hon. Michel Chebat, Minister of Health & Wellness, informed Cabinet that in conjunction with the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Technology, 45 Belizeans were awarded scholarships to study nursing at the University of Belize. Valuing more than a quarter million dollars, these scholarships were granted to qualified students with outstanding academic performance.

• Cabinet was updated on the status of vaccinations and the number of vaccines available in Belize. Currently, there are more than 369,588 vaccines available. As of 23rd November 2021, 208,621 persons or 48.5 percent had received at least one dose of the vaccine and 192,206 or 44.7 percent have been fully vaccinated. Also, for the first time since the start of the third wave, the daily positivity rate fell to 5.4 percent, an indication that the nation is moving in the right direction.

• Cabinet mandated that effective Thursday, 25th November 2021, all motor omnibuses are permitted to carry 100 percent seating capacity. All bus operators are required to continue adhering to the COVID-19 regulations and ensuring that all their buses are sanitized properly, that passengers continue to wear their face masks properly, and sanitize prior to boarding the buses. It is the responsibility of bus operators to prohibit passengers without a face mask and to remove any passenger in violation. Failure to do so will result in fines to be levied upon operators.

• Cabinet approved recommendations from the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management to reintroduce legislation in the National Assembly for Belize to become a State Party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). This will allow for Belize to fulfill its commitments to address the illegal trade of endangered species of fauna and flora, to promote the management, conservation, and protection of endangered species and to establish the necessary legal structures enabling the effective regulation of international trade of CITES listed species in compliance with international obligations.

• Cabinet gave its approval for the Minister of Rural Transformation, Community Development, Labour and Local Government to conduct a comprehensive review of the Labour Act, including a review of new regulations in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, the ministry was requested to formulate a plan for the gradual implementation of government’s commitment to reaching a five-dollar minimum wage.

• Finally, as the holiday season draws near, Cabinet continues to encourage those not yet vaccinated to do so and reminds Belizeans who have been fully vaccinated for more than six months that booster shots are now available. The public is reminded to maintain physical distance, wash hands regularly, and wear a mask or face covering in public.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Cabinet Briefs - 12/02/21 11:09 AM

Cabinet Brief 30th November 2021

The Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño, met in regular session on 30th November 2021.

• The Minister of Education, Culture, Science & Technology informed Cabinet that plans are in place for the reopening of schools for some level of in-person learning in January 2022. In this connection, all schools are required to apply for green light status from the ministry prior to the opening of schools in January.

• With the increase of flights into Belize and the start of the 2021 tourism season, during which record high arrivals are anticipated at the Philip Goldson International Airport, Cabinet gave the approval for the Ministry of the Blue Economy and Civil Aviation to employ eight new persons to begin training as air traffic controllers.

• Cabinet deliberated on the status of the sugar industry in northern Belize and discussed the ongoing impasse between the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association and Belize Sugar Industry Limited (BSI/ASR) regarding the Commercial Agreement and views it as critical that the 2021-2022 sugar cane harvest begins in December 2021. In this regard, Cabinet issued a statement explaining its position and recommendations to the stakeholders.

• Cabinet recommended the introduction of a Loan Motion at the Sitting of the House of Representatives scheduled for Friday, 3rd December 2021, for a US$2.5 million loan from the Caribbean Development Bank to assist government with the financing of emergency restoration of critical infrastructure as a result of damages caused by hurricanes Eta and Iota.

• Cabinet welcomed the report on Belize’s participation at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Twenty-Sixth Conference of Parties (COP26) that was held in Glasgow, Scotland, which saw the strong participation of Belize as an advocate for greater action to address pressing and urgent needs to confront the increasing impacts of climate change on the development of the nation. Additionally, Cabinet applauded the selection of the National Climate Change Office to the Adaptation Committee of the UNFCCC, and Dr. Kenrick Williams, CEO in the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Climate Change & Disaster Risk Management to the Board of the Adaptation Fund.

• Cabinet was updated on the status of vaccinations and the number of vaccines available in Belize. Currently, there are more than 319,108 vaccines available. As of 29th November 2021, 209,176 persons or 48.6 percent had received at least one dose of the vaccine and 194,398 or 45.1 percent have been fully vaccinated. This represents about 67 percent of the adult population vaccinated, an indication that the nation is moving in the right direction.

Cabinet also approved free testing for all students returning home during the month of December through the land borders.

Considering the discovery of the new COVID-19 variant, OMICRON, Cabinet gave its approval for new regulations to be implemented for persons from countries where this new variant has been detected who are entering Belize through the airport and through land borders and seaports of entry. These will be a part of the updated Public Health Regulations which will be released later this week.

• Finally, as the holiday season draws near, Cabinet continues to encourage those not yet vaccinated to do so, and reminds Belizeans who have been fully vaccinated for more than five months, that booster shots are now available. The public is reminded to maintain physical distance, wash hands regularly, and wear a mask or face covering in public.
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