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October 30
05:31 2018

REPORTER: News Staff, –

The Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), in a letter addressed to Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte last week, called on the government to express its concerns about the slow pace with which the government has acted in implementing United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) and anti-corruption legislation.

Attorney-General Michael Peyrefitte responded at the press briefing hosted by Prime Minister Dean Barrow on Monday, asserting that from the contents of that letter, it is clear that the Chamber is not aware of the procedures involved in setting up the UNCAC framework. Peyrefitte promised that he would respond formally this week, and urged the Chamber to make his response public, just as its letter to him became public.

In its letter, the Chamber stressed the national importance of completing the UNCAC framework implementation as part of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and for curbing corruption while punishing those responsible for acts of corruption. The Chamber also emphasized that highly pervasive corruption is too costly and serves only as an impediment to the advancement of law-abiding citizens. “It is crippling our nation and therefore we cannot lock its implementation onto the slow and winding path of bureaucracy,” the Chamber said.

The BCCI added that is still waiting for consultation and production of a gap analysis of Belize’s legislative framework versus the UNCAC framework since Belize signed onto the UNCAC on December 9, 2016. The Chamber says it wrote to GOB on August 19 requesting an update on this exercise but have yet to receive any response. The Chamber says it also understands that the Belize Country Assessment questionnaire has been completed but has not received a copy, however, it added that it also understands that the questionnaire falls regrettably short of providing any tangible analysis of the country’s legislative situation.

The Chamber affirmed its commitment to continue participating in the UNCAC Implementation Board but said it could not support the slow pace and progress of visits and reports from UNCAC oversight consultants. It noted that several civil and social partners are of the view that there is a general lack of information and incentive from government to encourage prompt implementation of the UNCAC framework and a clear lack of interest in strengthening and enforcing existing anti-corruption instruments.

“Government must be a willing and able partner, and it must lead by example in the national fight to break the chain of corruption,” the Chamber said in its letter.

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