When the controversial PACT amendment bill was introduced by the Prime Minister on March 13, the rationale given by the PM was that the finances of the Statutory Bodies needed to be better Policed by the Government of Belize. The implied translation of this was clearly that the Statutory Bodies which include the Protected Areas Conservation Trust, PACT and the Belize Tourism Board, BTB were not being fully accountable. That’s a serious accusation and as you would expect, the NGO Senator Osmany Salas could not agree.


Screen_Shot_2017-03-28_at_8.07.47_PMSenator Osmany Salas – NGO Community Representative


“That’s the impression you got when you listen to his comment in his presentation of the budget but well I can tell you, I sit on the Board of BTB representing BTIA and I can tell you that the BTB does their annual financial audits done by an independent auditing firm compared to previous years they are practicing good fiscal management, my concern with the BTB is that they don’t  make them available to the public and I want to see the day when that will happen because stakeholders in the tourism industry want to know how their monies is being spent so the BTB has nothing to hide so put it out there so that is another story so but I can tell you the BTB is audited annually when I sat on the Board of PACT some years ago and they audited their finances so I am not sure which one he is referring to maybe there a few of them that don’t do their audits but I can’t tell you for sure because I don’t sit on the Boards of all of them just one or two so I don’t know what he meant but there are stakeholders out there that have indeed said we want to see these statutory boards more transparent and more open with their information maybe this is an opportunity for them to step up their game and do that.”


Senator Osmany Salas – NGO Community Representative


“Demand accountability but we will demand the same for them if they are in a position to do so well you know they are coming from the NGO community and that’s a very interesting question you make because for NGO’s to be considered in good standing means that we don’t only have to be registered but we need to submit to government our annual financial audit report and provide on an annual basis  so that is good and I think it’s good that NGO’s are required to do that so then we do that and we are in a much better stronger position to demand the same thing from the government.”


Senator Salas also commented on his erstwhile colleague Church Senator Pastor Ashley Rocke who takes positions in the Senate that are so controversial, he has been accused of being the Government’s 7th Senator in the Senate. Senator Rocke is taking more public blow at the moment for joining the Government Senators and voting in favour of the Budget on Monday. While Senator Salas chose not to be as critical about the Church Senator as some in the public, he did express some concern.


Senator Osmany Salas – NGO Community Representative


“I was a little taken aback because in his presentation on the budget he did have several criticisms, several critical comments about the budget and then he did voted in support of the budget so I leave my comments at that that I was surprised. I believe it was Senator Courtney who call for a division meaning that everybody would have to state their vote for the record rather than just the I’s have it usually the way it’s done so I found it very interesting yesterday when we call for a division and a couple of them including the budget and the PACT one that is how the PACT one was voted down and I think that is a very good thing because there will be times when we want our vote recorded for authority when we feel strongly about something is not just the I’s have it and then the ones that are afraid or don’t have the conviction to vote stay in the background and they get away with that I personally think we should call on a division on every single one.”

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