PUP announces political reform package

The People's United Party (PUP) presented their proposals for political reform on November 25th at Bliss Institute in Belize City. PUP Party Leader the Honourable Said Musa, in introducing PUP Secretary General Godfrey Smith, said that if his party formed the next government, political reform legislation would be presented to the House within 100 days of their taking office. He also said their proposals for reform were the result of consultations they have performed around the country and that recommendations for changes were welcome - these are beginning proposals subject to revision.

PUP Secretary General Godfrey Smith, who read the proposals, said that the PUP is willing to join with the National Assembly appointed Joint Select Committee on Political Reform if the chairman of the committee were from the private sector instead of a politician.

Here is what the PUP proposes:


Without a strong, well-respected Parliament perceived to express the will of the people and to act on its behalf, there can be no lawful state nor genuine liberties. The People's United Party offers the following recommendations:

That the National Assembly be made unicameral with the eight Senators sitting and debating with the elected representatives but without the right to vote.

That the Standing Orders be revised to ensure that more meaningful debate can take place in the National Assembly and that motions of the Opposition have a fair and speedy hearing. The Standing Committee system should be made effective and subject to time limits for reporting back to the Assembly.

That measures be taken to ensure that the Public Accounts Committee be properly comprised and functioning.

That the Speaker be elected by a two thirds majority of the National Assembly. A mechanism will be put in place to resolve a deadlock.

That Parliamentary Counsel be appointed to the staff of the National Assembly to assist members with drafting of legislation and other legislative matters.

That parliamentary privilege be limited to prevent members from slandering others with impunity.

That a Law Reform Commission responsible to the National Assembly be established to undertake ongoing revision of the Laws of Belize.

That Crossing the floor by members of the Assembly be made unconstitutional. Members wishing to change parties should be made to resign and face a bye election.

That each constituency be allocated a budget to be used for constituency projects presented by the representative to, and approved by the Assembly. Each representative will be required to monitor and report back to the Assembly on the implementation of such projects, and the funds should be administered by a special public service mechanism for fiscal implementation.


Increasing numbers of Belizeans view the Executive as too powerful, too centralized, too large and too unaccountable. Our concept is of an Executive that does not infringe on the pillars of other institutions, of one that allows for citizens and organizations to exercise their rights and obligations, of an Executive concerned with transparency and responsible government. We make the following recommendations:

That the Head of State be a President elected by a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly and with the powers and duties currently exercised by the Governor-General. A mechanism will be put in place to resolve deadlock. Belize shall remain as a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.

That the Cabinet be comprised of not more than two-thirds of the elected members of the party that has obtained the majority of seats in the National Assembly.

That the Cabinet Secretary be required to hold press briefings after Cabinet meetings to report on the decisions taken by Cabinet.

That a Finance Supervisory Committee comprised of non-partisan persons be appointed to act as a watchdog over government's expenditure programs and projects.

That Ministers and Public Officers be made legally liable for any illegal or unconstitutional acts. That enforcement of judgements apply against the state and that the Public Authorities Protection Act can be repealed.


A judicial system that dispenses justice in a manner that is both fair and expeditious is an indispensable pillar for good governance and democratic development. The prohibition of arbitrariness in any branch of government and the submission of executive power to the rule of the law are sine qua non to a healthy democracy. We offer the following recommendations:

That a litigant's access to the Courts be ensured, and not hindered by ambiguous or onerous requirements or prohibitions, especially where fundamental rights and freedoms of election petitions are involved.

That the independence of the Supreme Court and the Appeals Court be assured by appointing competent judges ending the policy of contract appointments and removing the salaries and benefits of judges from the jurisdiction of the public service. The budget for the administration of the judiciary should be submitted directly to the National Assembly and voted on separately from the public service budgets.

That a separate and independent Judicial and Legal Services Commission be established, with representation from the Bar Association of Belize.

That separate and independent civil and criminal divisions of the Supreme Court be established to speed up the disposal of cases.

That steps be taken to ensure quality and independence of the Magistracy; they should not fall under the general jurisdiction for public officers, but be appointed by and be subject to the Judicial and Legal Services Commission.


Our democracy requires public participation, accountability and transparency in the management of public institutions, especially the Elections and Boundaries Commission. Public mistrust and suspicion weaken the credibility of this institution. We make the following recommendations:

That members of the Elections & Boundaries Commission be appointed by the President upon nomination of all parties represented in the National Assembly in such a way that each party is equally represented. A chairperson should be appointed by the President with the approval of the leaders of all parties represented in the Assembly. A mechanism will be put in place to resolve deadlocks.

That the Commission submit its budget directly to the National Assembly and that it be voted separately from the public service budget.

That campaign financing legislation be enacted to ensure disclosure limits on financial contributions to political parties and candidates for public office and to limit campaign expenditure.


Central government has treated village councils, town boards and the Belize City Council as departments, undermining their capacity to function and disrespecting their mandate. The People's United Party makes the following proposals:

That the Belize City Council Act and the Local Government (District Boards) Act be amended to give more independence, autonomy and responsibility to local governments. The powers of the Minister over these elected bodies should be severely curtailed.

That specific dates be fixed for local government elections.

That there be direct elections of Mayors.

That a Village Council Act be passed to give legal recognition, independence and responsibility to village councils and to reduce the power of the Minister over such bodies.


Corruption in public life has become pervasive. Citizens feel that politicians and public officials use their public office for personal enrichment and they demand immediate and practical solutions to restore integrity in government. We offer the following suggestions:

That a contractor-general be appointed, along with an independent board, to ensure the fair awarding and monitoring of government contracts.

That an Ombudsman be appointed, with powers and resources to act efficiently and independently.

That the powers and independence of the Integrity Commission be strengthened.


It is time that we end political tribalism and polarization in Belize. Our children, our citizens and our voters must be given greater responsibility for the affairs of their lives, their villages, their towns and their relationships. Political education can assist in the good governance of Belize. The People's United Party puts forth this suggestion.

That a dynamic political education curriculum be designed with the participation of civil society organization, such curriculum to include history, social studies, civics and constitutional fundamentals.


Citizens' rights should not start and end in the polling booth. We believe electoral reform can expand the rights and opportunities of citizens and offer them alternative recourse in registering their concerns and getting government to act on matters of vital public importance. We offer the following recommendation:

That a Referendum Act be passed to enable citizens to petition for a matter of national importance to be put to a referendum.


The process of consultation by the People's United Party has been long but exciting and fruitful. Our Party is pleased with the number of Belizeans who participate in our consultations across the country. Belizeans had ready, definite and passionate ideas about political reform. It is clear that our citizens believe that the time for political reform is now.

In the spirit of solidarity and democracy, we have presented some proposals for political reform, informed by dialogue and discussion. The process does not end here. I invite you - now if you wish - to offer your thoughts, your ideas as we enrich this exercise.

Over the coming months, our Party will be encouraging and soliciting additional views from Belizeans and organizations. Inclusion, integrity, accountability and transparency are a few of the building blocks to initiate change and restore confidence in our political culture and institutions.

Thank you for coming, listening and participating.

Send comments to: Hon. Said Musa, P.U.P. Leader, 91 North Front Street, P.O. Box 571, Belize City, Belize, Tel: 02-32940, Fax: 02-31149; Hon. Jorge Espat, P.U.P. Chairman, 91 North Front Street, Belize City, Belize, Tel: 02-30372, Fax: 02-31149; or Mr. Godfrey Smith, P.U.P. Secretary General, 3 Queen Street, Belize City, Belize, Tel: 02-32428, 02-45886.

PUP announces political reform package

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