THINK ABOUT IT(Nov 26)

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WILL BARROW BE ARRESTED

The new Cabinet of the new government met on Tuesday 24th November. On Wednesday, the nation was informed by way of a public press release of the main issues decided at the cabinet meeting.

Covid, quite rightly, was a big part of Cabinet’s decision following a “full report” from the new Health Minister Michel Chebat.

The situation is dread, to put it mildly, over a hundred and thirty Belizeans are dead. The release said Cabinet “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 implanted with a view of arresting the spread of the virus.”

Minister Chebat had a press conference on 26th November to update the public.

The shocking import of this information will take some time to sink in among our people. The government of Dean Barrow “had no plan in place to address the (covid) crisis.”

This is unbelievable. This is bordering on criminality. It is sinful. Press conferences, Statutory Instrument, curfew, massive police arrests for not wearing face masks, forty-one thousand persons turned down who applied for a little one hundred dollars help. But no structured plan in place to fight the enemy Covid.

The death rate at KHMH is soaring. There is no resources to conduct major testing. Even the limited samples taken cannot all be tested in a few days, backlogs are piling up. By the time a person is given a test result of positive, it is because he or she is on the road to death.

Most Belizeans are wearing facemasks. But they are not being extremely careful about touching doors, doorknobs and many objects which are transmitting the virus. A massive public education campaign has to get underway immediately.

Fighting Covid also requires finance. The government is broke, Dean Barrow made sure of that.

And our world doesn’t wait on us. The flare-up of gun violence this week was another reminder of how little Barrow did to fight crime and the root causes of crime. Even though he had millions and billions of dollars which he squandered with arrogance and disdain unmatched. Now Belizeans are in crisis, a Covid crisis, an economic crisis and a social meltdown crisis.

Cabinet also agreed to meet with the Public Service Union, which recently publicly condemned the “fire sale” of government vehicles, furnitures and other public assets to former Ministers. It should be noted that the Public Service Union became aware of this criminal activity from September, and said nothing to us the people. We also note that in their public condemnation release, they fingered the Financial Secretary and the public officer in charge of assets, quite rightly.

It is our view that the main responsibility was the Minister of Finance who was also Prime Minister. Our system of government, though undermined, sabotaged, crippled, and emasculated, is still the lawful system, as such no Financial Secretary, no assets officer has any authority to discard public vehicles etc. for a pittance. There are laws and rules governing these matters. And the Minister of Finance must approve. Over a certain value, the National Assembly must approve.

If any official violated our laws which exist to protect against abuse, they must be punished. And this applies especially to Mr. Dean Barrow, who for twelve years was Mr. Above-The-Law.

Mr. Barrow has done many wrong things, some evil, some criminal, to the people and the country of Belize. He presided over the most corrupt government this nation has seen. Millions of dollars have been stolen under his watch. All his close family members are millionaires. His Ministers were like hogs feeding at the public trough. The bullshit about “for God’s sake, stop it” and Lands Ministry was a “hotbed of corruption” is not acceptable. It was his job to stop the theft and corruption and to deal with the hotbed of corruption. He did nothing.

The massive turnout of over eighty odd percent of voters is not to be taken lightly. It was a humongous rejection of Dean Barrow and everything he and his Ministers did to this country. Enough was enough. The people have spoken.

There is enough evidence already available, against the C.E.O. and the former Minister of Works. Why has the DPP and the Police Commissioner not ordered their arrest? Plus TV has the documents, the videotape evidence and witnesses.

Dean Barrow and his Ministers cannot be allowed to get away with their criminal behaviour.

Fighting corruption is serious business. It is what the Belize people by their thousands voted for in the historic change on 11th November.

NEW PERMANENT SECRETARIES

The list of new Permanent Secretaries has been released. They are called Chief Executive Officers. There are 16, one for each Ministry. None have experience in the public service. This has its upside and downside. It will present a challenge to the new government, of whom, many Ministers are themselves new to their bureaucracies.

In 1993, Manuel Esquivel was re-elected for a second term. He must have appreciated the need for his Ministers and permanent secretaries to have a better understanding of the vast public service machinery and its all-important role as the employees who carry out cabinet’s policies and the country laws.

The permanent secretary in the Ministry of the Public Service was Dickie Bradley and cabinet secretary was Henry Gordon. Esquivel authorized a conference type gathering attended by some of his Ministers alongside their PSs.

The University of the West Indies has a certificate in Public Administration course, also a bachelor’s degree and a master degree in Public Administration. The public service is crucial to both develop and underdeveloped nations.

The Constitution provides for only two types of Public officers. Section 105 which authorizes the Public Service commission to promote, transfer and fire 95 percent of the public service. And section 107 which authorizes the Prime Minister to select CEOs, ambassadors, and certain key personnel like Police Commissioner and BDF commander.

MINISTER HENRY CHARLES

Henry Charles Usher is the Minister of the Public Service AND Constitutional and Political reform. This is a massive burden and responsibility on the young energetic minister.

The Public Service is too fat, it needs a liposuction, to bring it back in shape and make it fighting ready to deliver for the people of Belize. It is the Public Service which makes a government efficient and effective. They can be part of the incompetence and corruption of a government (as they did the last 12 years) or they can be part of change and improvement.

The last government used and abused the public service. Look where it has gotten us. The Ministry of Works allowed their Minister to hijack heavy equipment, trucks, pickups, even personnel to work on his massive farm for years. And no one said a word.

Of signal importance is the constitutional and political reform portfolio under Henry Charles. This is where the future of Belize lies. We are either going to fix our country and put new foundations and improve the existing ones, or, we are forever to be tossed around at sea sinking and hopelessly bailing out water and plugging leaks.

Within one hundred days of being elected Prime Minister, Said Musa appointed a Political Reform Commission made up of a wide cross-section of society. It was a massive undertaking completed in one year, with public consultations and resulted in 103 recommendations, of which 63 were accepted by cabinet.

The world has changed since 1998, Belize has learnt some bitter lessons from the 12 years of a disgraceful government and a compliant Public Service with failed and subverted institution and flunky personnel.

Let’s get it on!

REDEMPTION SONGS

The images posted on Krem TV was all bad, very, bad. A squad of “police officers” all but one dressed in military combat clothing, were advancing in attack formation.

A kind of copy-cat, anti-terrorist approach like in movies .

Like in oppressive countries, where the poor are treated like enemies. It looked like the brutal Israelis storming into homes of Palestinians.

Like racist white police in America going into black neighborhoods. Belize’s militarized police, complete with military camouflage uniforms and big semiautomatic weapons is a traumatic nightmare for our people. The oppressed poor people in Lake I voiced their resentment and anger. “It’s been a long time coming but they have prayed for a change to come.”

Some senior police officers have not gotten the memo.

Keep away from these unacceptable Honduras, Salvador, Israel and Guatemala military behavior.

The word is in Community Policing.

If they had asked Superintendent Alejandro Cowo, who is in charge of Crime Investigation Branch, he would have gone to the home and left a message that the murder suspect was to be told to go and see him before the day was over. They always turn up.

Policing is brains, not brutality.

To our brethren, the new dynamic Minister, Kareem don’t feel besieged. It is not your sole duty to solve crime. The crime situation on Southside has deep roots in poverty, economic deprivation, social meltdown, dysfunctional families, indiscipline, governmental neglect and lack of opportunities. Not to mention the horrible housing and living conditions, lack of schooling etc.

An inter-ministerial task -force with private sector inclusion is an urgent option. Urgent like yesterday.

New permanent secretary Kevin Arthurs is familiar with this discussion.