Amendments to Petro Caribe bill debated

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Updated: June 26, 2015

As we mentioned, very important bills were read today in the House of Representatives and one of them was the Petro Caribe Loans Amendment Bill. The amendments were drafted after several sectors of society expressed concern about the wording of the bill. But the amendments are not satisfactory to several bodies including the People’s United Party and the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The only bit of debate we saw today was in regards to this particular bill.

 Francis Fonseca – Opposition Leader

“For us this is absolutely not satisfactory. The honorable Prime Minister is saying all the details are there for everyone to see, that is absolutely not the case there are these large headings with large amount of money allocated for specific projects but there is no accountability. We don’t know who got these contracts, did we get value for money with each of these contracts? None of that information is available to the Belizean people so this is absolutely unacceptable to us and as we have been saying over and over Mr. Speaker the Petro Caribe program we have no problem with that program that was an initiative of the People’s United Party government. What we have a problem with Mr. Speaker and it is reflected here again, why we have this problem what we have a problem with is the manner in which this UDP government and this minister of finance is using and abusing those monies for their own purposes without accounting to the people of this country just putting some broad headings about what the Ministry of Finance is spending, the Ministry of Education is spending. We’ve heard of the member for Collet taking people to eat tacos and swim in the sea and drink beers where is that accounted for here Mr. Speaker?”

 Patrick Faber, Minister of Education

“On no occasion when an appropriation bill or a supplementary is brought they get into the details.  We have never had a budget speech where the Prime Minister presented the estimates for the upcoming financial year and we got details upon details as to who go contracts and all of that, that is utter nonsense.”

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“There is a second bill this is with respect to last year the leader of the opposition doesn’t even have the ability to understand what he needs. Two bills are in front of him I haven’t introduced the second one yet, this is for last fiscal year that thing that you are complaining about happened this year and it is recorded in the second supplementary bill ,please sir exercise your abilities if you have any.”

After the People’s United Party walked out of today’ sitting, they presented their position on what they would have in the House, to the media.

Francis Fonseca, Opposition Leader

The bottom line with the Petro Caribe loan motion is that we are not interested in any amendments.  The resounding cry and call from the Belizean people, it has come from the chamber of commerce it has come from the NTUCB, it has come from APAMO all of these entities have called for the repeal of this act.”

Reporter

“There is the chamber of commerce which says that the government has in fact not even responded, that you have not responded to their request to speak about the legislation.”

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“I will send you a copy of the last letter they sent to me. They said in that letter that they appreciated my general invitation to all social partners to also share in the dialogue they never in that meeting said “So we want to take you up on that offer and we are asking you for a meeting.”

Francis Fonseca – Opposition Leader

“ It is a law that must go, it must be repealed, it is a law all about Mr.Barrow again his ego protecting him above the law not answerable to anybody and listens to nobody and answers to nobody that is Dean Barrow the Prime Minister of this country and this law is all about him, all about covering up for him and protecting himself that is what this law is all about and these amendments are absolutely not acceptable to us and not acceptable to the Belizean people and so we reject them and we demand and continue to demand that this Petro Caribe loans act be repealed. We are prepared to offer proper suggestions and recommendations for what can be put in place to replace this Petro Caribe loans act and the honorable Julius Espat has been a part of a team that has lead that discussion Sr.Council Marshalleck has in fact drafted legislation which we are prepared to propose to replace that Petro Caribe loans act.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

Mr.Marshalleck is a good lawyer we have had though far better legal minds than Marshalleck look at this thing and so that simply cannot happen. Whatever they come up with we will look at but I insist to people that that is not really their end game, they want to stop this thing. Every time we have tried to do something creative to try to put ourselves completely on the good foot they go back to court and they change the nature of their application to take account of whatever new law or whatever new resolution the government passes so that they can still end up asking the court to stop the program. They are really talking out of two sides of their mouths

 

The only union we know of that has formulated a firm position on the Petro Caribe Amendments is the Belize Teacher’s Union, which disagrees with it.