PUP shows its true colors

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With just six weeks gone since the PUP was elected to office, Belizeans are already starting to regret voting for the PUP. Only this week alone, there have been several occurrences that has brought on such feelings. We will list a few of those occurrences that has caused Belizean to be kicking themselves for having voted PUP.
On Wednesday, December 23, the Ministry of Human Development, Families, and Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs announced the closure of the Belize COVID-19 Cash Transfer program (BCCAT). This is exactly eight days after it was opened. The BCCAT is a program to provide support to vulnerable households affected by COVID-19. No sooner had the announcement been made that when the application phase was closed. The closure is effective on Wednesday, December 23, 2020, at midnight. New applications will be processed over the next 31 days. That bit of news was a hard blow to those many Belizeans, who were depending on that money that would have certainly come in handy for Christmas. However, that would not happen because the PUP Grinches have stolen Christmas.
Then and perhaps the most important is the fact that the nation’s teachers may be preparing to lock horns with the Government over salaries early next year. Apparently, information was leaked to the Belize National Teachers’ Union (BNTU) that the Government is contemplating cutting teachers’ salaries and firing all school wardens. A Facebook post by the BNTU’s President, Elena Smith, stated: “Don’t you dare come to me talking about pay cut when you can find money for new vehicles. That will spell trouble.” To us, it sounds like serious trouble brewing for the government. We spoke to several teachers and the impression we got was that the teachers are prepared to go into the streets to protest.
Another concern that has Belizeans up in arms at this time is a rather strange Statutory Instrument (SI) that was signed by the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Natural Resources, Petroleum & Mining, Cordel Hyde. That Statutory Instrument prevents persons wanting to make electronic payments or payment at the commercial banks. This is a practice that has been accepted as the norm. Persons could go into the financial institutions and make payments for their parcels of land. That has now been stopped. Instead, persons must pay at the cashier at the Lands Department. Those mostly first time landowners would have preferred not going to the Lands Department. It is always crowded and with COVID-19 being prevalent, the chances of contracting it is increased in such an environment. What is most disheartening is that many have tried to make payments, only to be told after spending hours in line suffering under the elements, that their account is frozen. This is thereby preventing them from making their payments. For many of those persons the clock is ticking and they would lose their chance of owning a piece of land if they don’t make any payment by a certain time.
Some of those persons have hired themselves attorneys to protect their interests. One such group of 150-plus persons have retained the services of attorney Orson ‘OJ’ Elrington. He has since written to Wilbert Vallejos, the Commissioner of Lands; the CEO, and the New Minister in charge of Lands. Elrington’s letter, dated December 16th, 2020, says in part, “We are instructed that your department approved (via a letter dated September 23rd, 2020) our client’s application to purchase the property. We are further instructed that the Government of Belize has, since the date of the letter, made it impossible for our client to comply with the terms of the agreement for the purchase by refusing to accept payment (as stipulated in the approval letter) at its cashiers in the Ministry of Natural Resources, and through the enforcement of a statutory instrument, which makes it impossible to pay at the commercial banks.
We consider the actions of the Government as an unlawful, naked attempt to prevent our client from consummating the transaction by making it impossible to abide by the terms of the Government’s own approval. If the Government does not accept our client’s payment within Fourteen days to correct its unlawful position, we will be forced to take legal action.”
A lawsuit for the government at this time could end up costing us a lot of money at a time when the country has serious financial difficulties because of the revenue shortfall brought on by the effect of COVID-19 on our economy.