REPORT #567 November 2002

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

Well I do take a cold shower every day, trying to get rid of the temptation to succumb to forming a new political party for this coming elections. My wife tells me I don't need the money, the work, or the aggravation at my age. She is quite right! But as a fisherman, boat builder and stuff, you sure get annoyed when people are not doing the job right. Makes you want to shove them aside and do it yourself and get the damned thing done.

But if such a political party would be formed, here are some of the early ideas. Just fanciful thinking and it is going to stay that way.

First a name. After much discussion and choosing of names, we decided on the SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY Have the intention of accomplishing everything within one year, with all legislation effective the following year by a due date. And the calling of a new election under the new electoral restructuring rules.

Some of the things I remember over the years, off the top of the head, that would be in the MANIFESTO are;

1)The Senate would be elected and have a representative from each district. The term would be staggered to general national elections, more mid-term.

2)Legislators, or elected representatives would have a shorter term of three years instead of five years. Their terms would be staggered also with one third being elected each year. Nor would they be allowed to operate as Senators, or Cabinet Members along with their jobs as elected representatives.

3)The Cabinet would be an elected body, The operating Cabinet guidelines would be as a Collegial Body, with no Minister's discretion. They can only supervise departments within the LAW as set out by the Legislature. They have no budgetary or any financial discretion. The maximum would be seven or nine members and these members would be responsible also, of presenting a proposed departmental and national budget each year, for the following year by November 15th prior. The actual budget proposal would be debated and decided by the Legislature and horse traded with the Senate for a compromise BILL.

4)Half of the estimated revenue of the national government would be earmarked for distribution to the six districts equally. Differences in requirements would be met by GRANTS and any district that applied for them. These GRANTS would have to be MATCHING FUND GRANTS.

5)There would a defined separation of duties and responsibilities by any National Government and that of communities, towns and Districts.

6)There would be some form of a District government, be it a Managing Committee and budget oversight committee, or what? But the National Government would give the District money to the District Government and this government would have to re-distribute throughout their district according to set formulas that are defined by the national Legislature.

7)There would be defining legislation, setting limits on national borrowing. The rules basically; that no more than 20% of the average of the last five year's government income can be surpassed without mandatory freezing, until the debt is below 12% of the five year average. Or alternatively, if the debt exceeds 32% of GDP, then borrowing is frozen.

8)The establishment of a NATIONAL BANKRUPTCY ACT, whether it is used or not, but based on compulsory guidelines of implementation outside of the decision making power of any party or cabinet.

9)Removal of the agriculture crop the wild plant hemp, from the dangerous drugs list and cancellation of any prohibitive legislation to do with that naturally occuring plant.

10)The election by a district of a District Judge.

11) Each community, town or city shall elect one or more judges as needed.

12) Each community shall elect a police chief.

13) Each district shall elect a police chief.

14) The national police and local police shall be seperate jurisdictions. Whether District for rural areas and local for towns, and villages. The present budget for police operations shall be given to local jurisdictions to hire and fire police of their own as an operating budget. The national police will look after national crimes and problems as to be defined by the legislature in laws. A restructuring of the police system and budget allocations is in order.

15) A legislative formula shall be found to guarantee sale of electricity to the National Grid by independents.

16) A legislative formula shall be found to make payments and guarantee the use of the copper line and aluminum line telephone grid, to the owner, by independent telecommunications operators.

17) A licensing authority will be established to issue licenses to all comers for standard fees. There will be no discrimination to advertised standard qualified candidates. Similar to drivers licenses, but to cover telecommunications, electricity, buses, banks, businesses and other things.

18)A law requiring a council quorum for any approved local government spending at the town, or village level, with a minimum amount for discretionary petty cash. Such spending to be accounted for with bookkeeping and minutes of meetings, with financial and criminal penalties for violations.

19)A change of population representation for elected representatives to geographic representation throughout the nation. With the proviso that no city, or town can have more elected representation than any geographic portion of their district. This to build a nation instead of concentrating population into city growth.

20)The Referendum Act is to be upgraded and made public available, with 2% of voters signatures in a petition for the calling of a National Referendum in 120 days or 5% of local voters for a referendum at district and community level governments.

21) The cancellation of the gratuity ( tip ) of one year's salary for people who quit politics after being elected and the life time pension rewards. Accompanied by a two term limit for any elected office. In the case of Prime Minister, a one year limit on the post, which will be defined by the legislature as ceremonial.

22)The Belize Defense Force will establish shooting ranges in each district and national militia service will be required of all citizens between 18 and 45 years of age who are physically available. The goal is to establish law and order and a method of quickly going into a defense mode in each district of the country at an alarm. Or other goals as may be defined in the future. Militia service may see some minimal financial compensation but not much. The professionals of the BDF will be in charge of training, but the local District Militia will set their own priorities according to national guideline requirements. Each district militia would be trained to defend their district in the event of an invasion, or possibly disaster like a flood, or hurricane, or invasion from Guatemala.


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