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Editorial – February 22nd.

Editorial – February 22nd.
February 22
20:00 2019

By Mr. Henry Lawrence –

It is deeply distressing to learn that there are many Belizeans who will not be able to receive their voter registration cards on time for April 10 because their birth certificates cannot be found!

This is a grave situation because the Belize Constitution guarantees to every Belizean man and woman the right to vote.

If a Belizean man or woman is deprived of this right for whatever reason which is not his own fault, he has the option to sue the government in a court of law for violation of his constitutional right.

The problem first came to light when Mr. J. Alexander Bennett, a distinguished educator and senior officer of the Ministry of Education (now retired), found that the official record of his birth could not be found.

Since then hundreds more have discovered that they also have been disenfranchised because the Ministry of Immigration and Nationality can provide no record of their birth.

We invite the Prime Minister to consider appointing a Commission of Inquiry to investigate this failure, to determine who or what is responsible for the breach, and to recommend what is to be done to remedy the situation.

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The Department of the Environment appears to have lost its way, causing many to question the soundness of its leadership.

The merry-go-round with the Zabaneh family over its right to recover lost property from the sea is ridiculous!

Zabaneh may be a loud-mouth, obnoxious in many respects, but as a Belizean he has his rights. He has the right to own property and he has the right to recover that property if it has been chewed away by sea erosion.

The function of the Department of the Environment is to make sure that he does not recover more than his due!

The Department’s dispute with the Turneffe Atoll resort by Canadian developer Karim Hakini seems equally vacuous and small minded.

The investment at Turneffe Island is not only impressive. It will be of immense value to Belize because it has the ability to attract high end tourists on a scale not seen in Belize before.

The Department’s displeasure with the Turneffe Island development, to be known as Hakimi’s Dive Haven, stands in sharp contrast to the enthusiasm with which the same Department welcomed and supported the Harvest Caye Project off Plaencenia, to the extent that (in association with the Forestry Department), it donated one of Belize’s most iconic birds – the Macaw, Big Red, to be a Harvest Caye mascot.

The Iranian-Canadian millionaire, Karim Hakini, has poured more than a hundred million into this magnificent island resort. He has paid his way, providing for water, electricity and sewerage disposal, all from his own resources, without asking for any favours, and without paying any money under the table to leechers.

This is the kind of high-principled investor that Belize needs to attract – investors who can bring real progress to the lives of the people of Belize.

Here again, the function of the Department of the Environment is to make sure that visitors observe conservation rules and do not take away anything that might damage the eclectic environment of the reef system. The sports fishing which is likely to take place will have no adverse impact with the catch & release procedure. Game fish which are to be taxidermed as trophies should carry a premium tax.

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