by Hilly Bennett
On October 5, 2020 Prime Minister Dean Oliver Barrow advised the Governor General Sir Colville Young to dissolve Parliament and set the date of General Election.
The dissolution of parliament should have closed the book of the Barrow administration’s reign of abuse of the rule of law, incompetence, corrupt acts and the filching of the people’s purse not to mention the utter disregard for country and people. There is a developing revelation that the plundering continues unabated.
Section 84 is the constitutional authority on prorogation and dissolution of the legislature. In the government press release on October 5, 2020 which lays the date for election as November 11, 2020, emphasis was made regarding Government of Belize retention of executive power post dissolution of the National Assembly.
At 84 (6) of the Constitution of Belize it establishes that: During the period between the dissolution of the National Assembly and the appointment of a Prime Minister after a general election, the government of Belize shall continue to be administered by the Prime Minister and the other Ministers and Ministers of state of the government.
When PM Barrow was questioned about the date of election on September 16, 2020 subsequent to the parliamentary session, it was clear that the cover of Section 84(6) would be sought in attempting to execute legislation that would bind the future PUP-led parliament. The PM responded that there were other matters pending before a date is called leading to the House being dissolved. Barrow stated “we are still trying to get through…some more legislation…but I don’t want to give a specific date because there are still some moving parts.”
Seemingly, the moving parts consists of a new $50 million dollar contract to Imer Hernandez for the building of a new Haulover bridge and additional bids for another section of the Caracol Road are to be delivered on Friday October 9, 2020. Barrow’s intention is to fast track the awarding of these contracts to cronies. The appointment of six Assistant Comptrollers of Customs and Excise department are amongst other of Barrow’s unfinished business. This is move that has been met with ire from Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, the Peoples United Party, via a press release from the Secretary General office. The PUP intends to void these contracts for want of legality.
When Parliament is dissolved all unfinished business ‘falls’. By convention, dissolution ignites the ‘purdah period’, the time during an election campaign when there are restrictions on what government can do – both in initiating policy and the use of official resources. Although government ministers continue to run their substantive ministry, they are limited in what they can do. Matters that had not received parliamentary approval cannot be carried over from one Parliament to another, reflecting the convention that “no Parliament can bind its successor.”
Therefore, the matter of contracts and appointments being contemplated would be shrouded in illegality and would be nullified. The self-acclaimed constitutional wizard, massa Dean is cognizant that to avoid unfinished parliamentary business from ‘falling’, government should try to complete them in the time between an election being called and the dissolution of parliament—known as the ‘wash-up’ period.
Mimicking a statement by UK’s Attorney General Geoffrey Cox statement on the dissolution of the British Parliament: The time is coming when even these UDP turkeys won’t be able to prevent Christmas in November with a victorious People’s United Party.
The Barrow regime is in desperation mode! Clearly, they are resorting to desperate measures and attempting to rescue the UDP image from the embers of the political ashes. The UDP is aware that they are losing the grip on power as General Election approaches with a vexatious electorate insisting Dehn GOT TO GO! A PUP Government and John Briceno as Prime Minister building a Belize that works for everyone! When PUP wins everybody wins!!