Today’s sitting of the House went through the third readings of several Bills quite quickly, as has become the norm under the UDP Administration. And while those inside of the House passed legislation and spoke on the issues of the day, a crowd of disgruntled Belizeans protested the long list of corruption that has been headlining newscasts throughout Belize in the recent weeks. Irvin Aragon and Jesus Melgar have that story.
Irvin Aragon- Reporter
Though the numbers can be considered somewhat minimal the message is clear they are tired of the promises and are now demanding action. The people of Belize but in particular the people of Dangriga Town were out in full force displaying their utmost displeasure at the wanton corruption of the Government of the day.
Their cry is crystal clear, they need the Dangriga Market completed and they need it yesterday. If you understand the statement and if you are aware of the recent Social Investment Fund scandal you will agree with these people. They are demanding that the Government, primarily the Prime Minister of Belize, do something to bring those who are involved to justice.
Mayor Gilbert Swazo Sr., Mayor Dangriga
“You may be aware that usually Dangriga is never represented in any way or form and we do not normally protest, this is the first step towards the change that will occur in Dangriga, we have ben silence for too long so we are demonstrating just like anybody else that we are frustrated and tired of all the wrong that is wrongs that is being perpetrated on our people who have fulfil all their obligations.”
"Sir, SIF is saying that they have to put in out to tender and they have their process and they have to ensure transparency - all these things take time. Is that a reasonable response for you?"
Mayor Gilbert Swazo Sr., Mayor Dangriga
"If they were talking about transparency, if they were transparent, out market would have been completed by the 31st of July, it would have been finished 31st July. They also indicated that the issues at the time were regularized, hence the reason the extension for the 31st of October, so if they were transparent and they were doing their job, our market would shortly be completed with the extension that was given, so this is the first step and we want our market as early as possible, there was all the material on the ground to complete the market and they also stipulated that everything from early July was going quite well, all of a sudden they reverse and say that the delay of a hundred days which was eighty days between June, right all of sudden become hundred days on the 6th of September when apparently a new contract was already signed which in my view indicates and signals that all those issues were regularized and they said that at a meeting on the 6th of August. If you notice, everything that the Prime Minister indicates is surrounded in Belize City - City centric. He is indicating to the entire nation of Belize that Belize City is Belize country. He is only concern about Belize City. What happen to the South?" What happen to the West? What happen to the North? Every individual should share an equal and should get equal share of the national wealth of this country so again we do not stand like that and we want our people to come and stand up so that we can all get an equal share of this nation wealth. Week before we came to become the municipal government, that same present UDP municipal government receive several grants from the government, last year the only grant that was received despite asking numerous times, the only grant received by this Dangriga Town Council is the $20,000.00 that was allocated for National September Celebrations , nothing else despite the fact that we were asking for other projects, so perhaps if it was a UDP then they would have continue getting gifts and grants from this government, that is obvious right, that is obvious. Let me also state that we requested for a 3 million dollar loan to be approved by this same government, we did not get any, Belize got their 20 million dollars bond and when they responded to us not for the 3 million dollar but for the grant to pay people off who are retiring they came to us and said that how it was not allocated on their budget so they cannot give, neither was the 20 million either, that wasn’t allocated on the budget so why is it that Dangriga Town Council is not able to receive grants that are genuinely requested through the process of going through local government and finance just like everybody else.”
Lyndon Bailey, Investor, K and G Construction
“I want to collect my money, I want to say this to the Prime Minister, we didn’t put any money in Mr Smart’s hand we put it in the project, the only way Mr Smart could have went with our money if he was working with people within SIF. We want our money and I want the Prime Minister to understand this we want our money because it was a big corruption at SIF that caused us to be in this problem that we are in right now.”
Geovanni Brackett, President - COLA
"We are here to support the people of Dangriga that needs their market like from yesterday, like last year. The second thing why we are here is because there is a mirage of allegations of corruption within the government. It doesn't just start with the immigration scandal, it isn't just the issue with Castro, and it goes way back with the Noh Mul, the KHMH issue. It is time for us to take a stand; COLA has a stack record that we have been on these issues. We brought in 135 people to come here to lodge our complaint on the record because the time for press release and press conferences is gone. The time for people movement is now."
The Opposition side Representatives stepped out of the National Assembly during a break from the day’s sitting to show solidarity and support with the people.
Other issues were raised by the Opposition side regarding the state of road conditions, hospitals, culverts, among many others. The house concluded shortly after three this afternoon.
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