Millions of dollars wasted by PUP’s Anti-ICJ campaign Print
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Friday, 12 April 2019 00:00

Chief Elections Officer Josephine Tamai has confirmed that the Government and her department has spent over one million dollars to prepare for the ICJ referendum. The PUP, in their undemocratic campaign to shutdown the ICJ referendum, has caused the Government, and by extension the Belizean taxpayers, to waste hundreds of thousands of dollars from that expenditure, since the referendum can’t happen on the date it was planned.

In her first interview with the press after Prime Minister Barrow announced the postponement of the referendum, Chief Elections Officer Tamai told Channel 7 News that the Elections and Boundaries Department diligently prepared for referendum. It was of the utmost importance to her office, given the fact that this event would have been a part of history in the making. For the first time, Belizean voters would have gotten the chance to say how they want the Guatemala’s claim to their territory resolved.

So, for several months now, she, her staff, and all the public officers, who were going to officiate the referendum, began to diligently work late hours into the evenings, the nights and even the weekends, to prepare for April 10, 2019; the date set for the referendum. First, there were the logistics to carry out the countrywide re-registration of voters. From there, her staff quickly moved into making the logistical preparations for the 344 polling stations that needed to be available countrywide for the referendum on the scheduled date. That included meetings, training, official appointments of public officers and other logistics.

In that time, the Elections and Boundaries Department incurred financial costs for accommodations for these public officers so that they can be ready to open the polls promptly at 7 a.m. on April 10.

Chief Elections Officers Tamai said, “In terms of the referendum itself, we have already spent over a million dollars in terms of preparations for the referendum.”

That cost may increase further depending on the business owners who had prepared the accommodations for the public officers for the referendum. Hotel rooms for the traveling public officers were booked weeks in advance of April 10. Those proprietors may still charge the Government for the non-use of those rooms.

All that effort, and some of those costs have basically gone to waste because the PUP went to court and got an injunction restraining the Government from holding the ICJ referendum. The Government went to the Court of Appeal to get it lifted, but the PUP were unrelenting. The Court of Appeals stated that it did not have the authority to overturn the injunction.

Taxpayer dollars were invested to prepare for the referendum, and now, some of the money used will see no benefit because the referendum is put off until further notice. In addition, the PUP’s anti-ICJ campaign has caused the public officers, who were going to oversee the referendum to waste quite a lot of their time and effort. They have a backlog of work they must return to because they put their normal duties aside to take on this responsibility. They must return to complete that backlog, and when a new date for the referendum is called, they will fall behind again when they return to officiate.