NGO Senator Interview – The Way Forward

NGO Senator Interview – The Way Forward



and thanks for coming back joining us for our first conversation is the 13th senator mr. Osmani solace and media relations officer of the NGO steering committee in soil s-salam good morning to you both welcome to open air I like the program thank you for a for coming all the way from Punta Gorda on being i'm joining us for this conversation so i know that you are very convinced for time this morning so it's jump into it tell us about your new position how you're settling in any kind of objectives that you have going into this new role sure sure but i just want to survive make a little correction okay the furnace alumnus or interim chair company excepted interim chair rule for another six months we put everything in with everything in order but it is really interesting it's been an interesting ride if i could call a doctor no monday was my first Senate session and it also served as an orientation to me i must say i never did get a formal orientation i had a weekend to read up on my standing orders and and on the bills at work that way to be cable and discussed and then i showed up and that's where i got my orientation actually almost done faster you know pastor rock you know senator rahku was his first there and i was a second and he gave me a quick five-minute already assured i really appreciated that and then and then there it was so a set of first time for me and it was interesting for me to see how the betterment did it you know it's one thing I found out is one thing to read or sending orders and it's another thing to be there and see how they did it so I actually learned a lot that be and thankfully was able to contribute as well with the week of the issues that were presented before Parliament on Monday do you believe that it was baptism by fire for you absolutely well but look i have i have to say that i really appreciate our steering committee i'm even before the session we had their told me and the idea was that they will be available at any time because i mean this is not about one person which was about the community and we have a steering committee and so it was it was tested and i must say that it worked you know III friend just just last night that's a no idea i have always believed that that to say that you busy it's not an excuse even were no because everybody's busy yeah but even so our steering committee members are always available and i could reach them at any time and that Kim came forward and other members in our community so actually that was very helpful in my preparation because I mean I don't think it's possible for one person to have a good grasp of all the issues right and that's not the idea so yeah it was very helpful to have a community of NGOs and people that you could reach out depending on the issue so far for us watching this process come to fruition certain aspects for life seem to be theoretical in a sense but now we're dealing in a situation where it has not become reality and the function of the steering committee Andy the interim chair is one where you guys are basically the guide for the representative in Senate what are some of the issues that you guys have come up with in terms of subsequent Senate meetings where the good senator here would have to present on your behalf I think from the moment we were informed this process is going to happen anyway basically one to action and also also a people at the cemetery saying that you do have a great team of people and it is teamwork and from the beginning like I said external committee which is originally headed by gender to nona and planet Ellis had kind of transformed as things went along and the biggest thing for us a free communication and thankful essential that we have the internet under so on to do that because quickly others- a fit what's up in there and so it's been a very effective form for us to share ideas to pick out loud and see how we can formulate an action plan or a strategy moving ahead and we've also had meetings with our community as well we've had a recently the last week on the twenty-fourth of January where we gathered to meet the larger NGO community because you are aware we initially were just a NGOs and pending community that's our meeting last week we met together they were like 20 of us and you will see a feast came on board some I have never met before and so how do you forge a relationship with these new converts to our circle so to speak and I have to say the discussion was very good very excellent we met our objective which was really to come up with the terms of reference for the basics of a contract between the NGO community and our senator because it will want to be clear everybody needs guidelines whenever I come to any role yeah like I said new for us and so it was really interesting that within an hour and a half we were able to come up with terms of reference for the senator and everybody has weed there was robust discussion and I'll anything as I'm going along as well as protocol I'm not really big one for the court okay impression it was a good eye opener Perth and I think so bit by bit we're kickin up the boxes that we need to do so already we have a guideline that governs how the senator behave how the communication occurs the next step for us now is how do you engage the NGO community that have a diverse array of issues regarding arm civil society and and community in Belize and I think that for us slowly we're developing away and princess we already have a facebook we have a certain senator email that we refer to and even that I mean we've got a feedback from the wider community that mean when you send out an email like everybody responds so you have like a hundred response to one question okay so part of that is a learning process but from what you requested last week was that the newcomers basically send us a very short summary of what work they involved in yeah and going forward we want to also develop a letter out the Advisory Council that leaks that is made up from those communities because we're mindful at the moment that the steering committee is predominantly the environmental NGO to me you know we are they want to be very active and so we don't want that to reflect what they are about it's not just an environment that's sort of concerning these we have health we have the elderly we have the youth through never animals apparently as well yeah so it's a it's a huge and if I hear diverse it's a diverse basket the basket and whenever and if their spokesperson this is the person who basically is easy steps to policymaking and that is really why right here you know how can we be a part of a policy that will promote good behavior among the symptoms of the leads eventually that's that's what it's about after after waiting nine years it's incredible how much has happened anila two months in particular just this month oh yeah the January that job ended and what I really like of the meeting last week that further report or is it was actually democracy in action I mean at its root because of the are the NGOs Arabia and a good number were represented we brought it on everything every major decision there was not bored and I'm glad that instead of just a simple majority we were able to achieve consensus and there were the proposal and or emotional comfort emotion and I'm count emotion to recruit the it was interesting to feed in action yeah we we you know we came up to agreement and yes as well as i mentioned i have a terms of reference that we are about to finalize that sexy stage not only for me but for whoever else will be the senator after me and remember will be a replacement in the eventualities at for a sanitation i cannot attend for whatever reason so we have and I'm of tank or our counterparts in the full vocal social pardon the other senators from civil society that that has all been very open with us shared information so we really didn't have to start from scratch and and and I was also mention and I think it's a very good start but even though five of us wide for the senatorial post we r gettin on all of them were there all the NGOs will represent to thank you and what it should we buy for it you know one came on top I know we have 11 way forward and in terms of the way forward it Sonny that that would be an interesting challenge but one that we must that that we must do but we must meet its to a side side for a very beginning we need to set to establish like a strategic direction yeah for the community because of roller skated through diverse cover so many earth were they wanting that unites on and it's captured rated the NGO legislation it's we are geared towards sustainable human development in the different things that we do so in excess you consider the goal now we need to sit down and decide and within our community we have people and who have actually offered to help eject eject planning discussions and things like that so that I think is one of the major things we want to do this is what I'm impressed by the more in terms of any organization who has representation in the house of Senate this is the most open we've seen any of these organizations and the mechanics of getting things done you have the business community that's represented you have the Union churches the government and our position and we've never really had an inside look at how things work in terms of hope some of the positions are formed on what have you this is the most open and transparent I've seen it as a reporter and as a as a belizean citizen first of all this is the first time I'm seeing how certain people are able to or certain groups are able to come together how they form a position on something and how they are able to execute but i want to share very briefly and enormous further i'm sure would add but you know that that is this family isn't very same reason why when i've been invited like i was invited to this for this show i immediately said somebody from the steering committee should come along because i'm not representing myself yeah i also mediated by one of the NGOs two of the engine about we have part of a team exactly exactly and it's karen committee has an important role to play so that the senator may be the spokesperson yeah but we have a community and our steering committee risa important role I wanted to ask a kind of like a devil's advocate question because the general idea for a lot of people is that oh there's just a 13th senator to balance the the power is in the Senate how do you shake that kind of I guess pessimistic outlook on what your role is there is established for nobody but but actually the way to put it that is a positive thing due to a balance you know the thing with the Senate and because as a leader for government business and it's a whole said when he welcomed into the Senate and and I'm a couple air of innocence from both sides of the political aisle they said that a no they expect the discussion the debate to be to be richer no nobody should take anything for granted that for the first time in the Senate the non-government senator the idea is that both sides they go on to the Senators representing the government know and the Senators representing the government in waiting they then need to come up with very good solid arguments yeah they're the ones that present and the ones that that would that would counter or down or we debated and then the ones on civil society actually have if I could call it the luxury to think without your partisan political lenses right we see from our perspective and that is what I like about our role in that we don't feed from red or blue in it from the merits of the legislation or the motion how it will impact the country and and unvarying it's already completely a contribution we will make and to echo what on earth was wrong Akane was saying I think our role in this whole process from a historical and a national perspective is that we are enriching debate on democracy we are actually maturing if I may face was a young country I was here previously and one of the things that really struck me about what we're talking about is God so often in believes we always take criticism as a negative we never see it as a feedback on how we can improve or behavior how can you guess the seminar policies and so I prefer to see the other way that we are a positive to the democratic process and it doesn't mean what people have been seen it was an a-hole government to ransom no it's not that any far from that I think we are members of civil society have seen that we could possibly charge a different way forward and you know that's what you want to want to help you healthy democracy and healthy democracy has to promote the beach from this perspective I would and will be reaching out i mean a couple of weeks ago we reached out we reached out to four senators from the government side on the position size from the civil society side just just to engage in you know talk you know to them about what they see as important issues and later on today we'll be meeting with with the Prime Minister will be meeting with a leader of the Opposition but you know 42 pieces but can the idea is to let them know that we are partners we are partners in the development of the country and and I needed and in the debate that must must be had right here's a question that a lot of people would want to ask that remains a bit unanswered this entire process about two weeks ago when you were elected to become the 13th senator in your address to the media after having been elected you mentioned being able to unite the NGO community in terms of one movement one way forward and this would also include those NGOs that were not necessarily in good standing being able to bring them up to par in order for them to be on the same playing field as some of the established i'm good timing ones where are we with that what is the outlook going forward it was very we were working on that and again that came up i think that took up almost a quarter to a half of the time but we had last week I mean it was a real concern and again it basically boil down to people not knowing where to go what's the one issue and we remind them of what what what they can do regardless but the second thing was also the the audit that the requirement there is financial report and it has to be an audit this can't be an accountant planning of that proves to be a real big hurdle for many of the smaller interviews and so going forward I think the discussion basically was check on perhaps we have to look at making on citations for perhaps increasing HS hold some 25,000 to something that's more relevant because I think it's been a while since that's that aqua park and all here we are looking at it so I think definitely that's on the table that we as a community will have to lobby for that change because it should not be right that you basically disenfranchised a huge sector of our community so going for it is in our best interest at the steering committee to come up with a finite planet so horrible about making sure that that is not a stumbling block from an ever-smaller income because that has been one of the criticisms from the detractors the argue were look only a handful participated in the process because so many other NGOs were essentially left out in the cold because they were not able to prevent certain documents that would accredit them in a sense for them to be able to participate yeah you know that is one other interesting challenges that we have and manifold I said we will need to find a way and under different options at the meeting itself that we had last week one of the members are pushing with an idea he you know he's an accountant very senior in experience with an idea on how to do that and help the small NGOs but why I say it's interesting and challenging is also necessary is that as a community we will be advocating constantly you know tirelessly for government for improved governance for more transparency accountability and if we are to fight for that la posada advocate but we need to shout out ourselves so so therein lies the challenge where some of our NGOs because of the scale of the operations you might not be able to afford it well we need to see look at the different options on how to get them there right either by by by advocating to increase the threshold or or see how we can pull the smaller ones and find help for them and there are there are entities out there we've learned that offer nonprofit support in that type of thing like they added for smaller nonprofits or charity organization so we will be exploring other options because we want them to be more integrally engaged at the meeting last week we had NGOs working good standing and nothing good standing and they all had a say they all contributed to the destruction but I think I want to echo what you know I think we need to echo the sentiment that we are governed by an NGO act and we must comply with the requirements of the NGO up it is not awesome necessarily for disenfranchising the others so like what he said you know there is a bar that we have to be up at all time and it's important because when we look at the recent amendment one of the things that what suggestion was that it was only in Jews who are registered and that that can participate in any NGO activity and so therefore let only do we have to be registered but we also have to comply with the annual requirement which are those two things so that no one can come and poke a hole into what we're doing is over look at them you know they're hypocrites they want us to be a transparent and open bday themselves are making the law because that's what it is is breaking the law and so this is where we started from the position of the NGOs from the beginning that were in good standing was that this is a small super to have to begin with but we definitely want to be more inclusive and certainly out of our policies and our actions are looking at that senator I know that time is running out very quickly but before you go can you tell us a little bit about the other things on your immediate agenda I know you're doing a couple meetings with you know courtesy visits and of familiarizing with the stomach to standing orders anything else on your immediate agenda well you know in addition to to the critical to the visits today which I consider very important we want to demonstrate to the to the leaders in government and in a political to explain what we are about that we are not about just giving trouble needless trouble where we are about being an integral part of the discourse and the discussion and a bit and and the development of the concert we go forward but a evaluate and we've just to reiterate that a first order of business for us has been organized or community as we have been saying so that that is it's a pretty big program that we have ahead and we have to lay out it like an action plan on how we will cover it forward I'm happy to to report but most of my angels have already been contributing financially to to do believe that work of NGOs are comforted we can become you know we have to pay for venue and the attachments and things like that so they have been there there when you have been engaged and they have been supportive yes so I think that for now that's a big enough program already okay well we want to thank you so much for being here and thank you for your time for coming all the way through where you have and we look forward to seeing great things from the rocket to come back we'll invite us back thank you we will could take a short break and be back to have our feature on the red cross thank you you

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