(Turneffe Atoll VO tricaster yesterday) Yesterday KREM News reported on the changes made to the board of the Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association (TASA), the NGO which co-manages the Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve.

We shared that the composition was changed in 2016 with the amended Articles of Association being logged at the Companies Registry until one year later. The Articles set out the stipulations for the appointment and removal of board members.

We have since received a copy of a legal opinion obtained by the Belize Federation of Fishers (BFF) about those changes. As you would recall, the BFF’s representative was removed as vice chair when the changes to the board were effected in 2016.

As pointed out, the NGO Act states that an NGO shall be independent of Government control in its operations and management but with the changes, two government officials ended up as voting members of the TASA Board, holding respectively the chair and vice chair position. In the case of the new vice chair, that representative is actually the Fisheries Administrator. The chairman, Lindsay Garbutt is on the board as the conservation representative but he is also the Director of Civil Aviation.

(TASA Legal opinion SCROLL) The legal opinion points out that if proper notice was not given for an extraordinary general meeting to amend the Articles of Association, then the convocation of the meeting is null and void. Furthermore, it notes that if quorum was not met during the meeting, then the amendments to the document are also null and void and the original articles of Association stand.

By that same token, it cites that the current Board composition is unlawful and “its decisions voidable.”

The attorney highlights that at least 3 of the 7 board members are functionaries of the Government in violation of the NGO Act. It states “It also means that the NGO can potentially either lose its Certificate of Registration, or lose the tax privileges of a registered NGO under the Act.”///

Written by EMC BFF