While most of the fireworks exploding in Belmopan today were aimed at the Social Security Bill, it was another piece of legislation--debated late in the afternoon--that may have more important long-term ramifications. The Macal River Hydroelectric Development Bill attempts to speed up the construction of the Chalillo Dam. Ground was officially broken on the controversial project late last month, but those opposed to it are attempting to stop it in the courts. They have thus far been unsuccessful, but are in the process of appealing the adverse ruling to the Privy Council. What the bill seeks to do, however, is something that any student of constitutional law can tell you is impossible: it attempts to place Chalillo beyond the reach of the constitution. Section 4 (d) reads: "For the avoidance of doubt and for greater certainty, BECOL shall proceed with the design, financing, construction and operation for the Chalillo Project in accordance with paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) of this section notwithstanding any judgement, order or declaration of any court or tribunal, whether heretofore or hereafter granted, issued or made."
Clearly, a law which places any person or activity beyond the reach of the system of justice is incompatible with the notion of constitutional rule. The government must know this, and we can only assume that the bill, which went through all three readings in one day, was enacted in order to ease the concerns of BECOL's potential financiers. That noble cause notwithstanding, Leader of the Opposition Dean Barrow described the bill as "wrong and utterly perverse". Actually, this may be one time when Barrow's hyperbole came up short. The fact is that, whether you like Chalillo or not, this bill may be the worst piece of legislation ever passed by the House of Representatives.
Return to the StopFortis.org home page...