Rules on Environmental Impact Assessments adjusted
- Government & PoliticsLands, Natural Resources & EnvironmentLove NewsNews Flash & Headlines
- February 24, 2023
- No Comment
The rules, which relate to Environmental Impact Assessments, were adjusted this week. Specifically, the changes center on the appeals process, which developers can employ after a decision has been given by the National Environmental Appraisal Committee. This comes right after the principals behind Waterloo’s Port of Belize Expansion Project vehemently disagreed with the NEAC after they rejected the company’s EIA. The Minister of Sustainable Development can now convene a tribunal, comprised of three people: an environmental expert, whom the Minister appoints; a magistrate or judge; and, the Senator, who represents the business community. With the new change, an alternative representative for the private sector can be appointed where issues of conflict of interest arise. That person is also determined by the minister. We today asked the President of the Belize Business Bureau, Arturo Lizarraga, for his organization’s position on the changes.
Arturo Lizarraga, President, Belize Business Bureau: “On that issue there is a general feeling that the government got elected to govern and we as organizations tend to misstep when we believe we have the right to determine how we’re gonna govern. Yes we have a chance to influence and participate and we should try to do that actively. For example I would have preferred or atleast the Business Bureau’s position is that we would have preferred to have the law say one from NGO’s, one from the business community and we would also further would have preferred if that representative can be chosen for example in the case of the Business Bureau the Chamber that they jointly decide who that representative would be not that you say okay the Senator is there and we’ll put the Senator. So for example now we have this problem where the Senator is implicated or there is clearly the official position is look you’re involved with this and therefore you will not provide proper judgment. Now you know whether the censure will or not is immaterial I believe that the proper thing to do is to allow the organization to determine, both Chamber and the Business Bureau like how we determine who the Senator will be we determine, sit down and then if that person is not the representative that will work properly then we determine and find an alternate that will serve the purpose of the exercise which is to provide unbiased and informed judgment in terms of what the final decision will be on Waterloo.”
Regarding Waterloo’s larger investment, the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry expressed support for the project, but the BBB says it’s a hard no for a variety of reasons. Lizarraga explained.
Arturo Lizarraga, President, Belize Business Bureau: “We did not express our support for the Waterloo investment, the Business Bureau did not do so because we believe that those two pending issues haven’t been yet resolved. What we’re going to do with the sewer, what we’re going to do with the dumping and in general we would want to know what would be the conditions. Will this gorilla come in and determine what they will do, how they will do it ? Will they own all the buses ? Will they own all the tours ? All those issues have not yet been explained unfairly to Belizeans and we want to know that upfront coming in so that’s pretty much an overview of how the Business Bureau is looking at it.”