PUP Accuses Barrow of Engaging In Secret Deal with Fortis/BECOL

By
Updated: October 27, 2015

The People’s United Party today revealed what they called a “secret deal” by Prime Minister Dean Barrow. This is in relation to the Belize Electricity Limited settlement which Barrow announced it  in August. The PUP says that as part of the settlement Prime Minister Dean Barrow bound the Government of Belize when he signed the Deed of Confirmation and Assurance in which he guaranteed a rate of return to BECOL and Fortis for electricity.

HIPOLITO NOVELO REPORTING

LISA SHOMAN:

“There is a secret deal. It is contained in a document that was named in plain sight in the Electricity Acquisition Act in the interpretation section and the key to the secret door was therefore hiding in plain sight. We sought the key, we got the key and we will open the door for all of you to see.”Fortis Agreement 3

HIPOLITO NOVELO REPORTING

“That secret deal that Lisa Shoman of the People’s United Party is referring to is the “Deed of Confirmation and Assurance”. It was leaked to the PUP over the weekend by someone within the Ministry of Finance. The deed is in regards to the BEL settlement with FORTIS and BECOL that Prime Minister Dean Barrow announced in August. The PUP says that this deed is Barrow’s own version of the Accommodation Agreement.”

LISA SHOMAN

“The issue with this deed is did cabinet know about it?  Were they told? Was it disclosed to the National Assembly? The answer to the second is a definitive no in terms of the proceedings of the National Assembly. Did the PUC know? Were Belizeans told?”

HIPOLITO NOVELO REPORTING

“The deed, dated September 8 2015, is a legal binding document which the PUP says it was signed by Prime Minister Dean Barrow and witnessed by his brother, Denys Barrow.”

LISA SHOMAN

“By Clause 2.2 the Government of Belize hereby confirms and represents that BECOL will be allowed to carry on business in Belize without interference, without interference and pursuant to terms of existing agreements relating to the operation and management of the Mollejon, Chalillo, Vaca hydroelectric facilities including those provisions fixing the rates to be paid by BEL for electricity supplied by these facilities. By the terms of this clause BECOL is therefore not to be interfered with by anyone including the regulator and including any court.”

HIPOLITO NOVELO REPORTING

“But in the event that a court, tribunal or the Public Utilities Commission, might determine that rates should be adjusted, BECOL will not be affected.”

LISA SHOMAN

Fortis Agreement 2“This means that by Clauses 2.1 and 2.2 the Government has effectively tied the hands of the PUC when it comes to BECOL committing the Government and people of Belize to indemnify BECOL against any losses, make good on those losses sustained as a result of any determination that the PUC as a regulatory body or any court may make against its interest. By clause 2.2 and the later clause 4 the government has agreed that even if a court finds that the instruments held by BECOL are unlawful the government will make them good. This is an unconditional guarantee given to BECOL that government will do all necessary to make any agreement lawful without any financial loss to BECOL. Even if the PUC or a tribunal or court might determine that rates should be adjusted the government must take all necessary steps to ensure that BECOL suffers no loss by any such determination and will make good such loss. By clause 4 government commits to do everything which BECOL and or Fortis may require to give full effect to the deed. By clause 14 of this agreement the government commits the people of Belize to international arbitration in the even that Fortis choses to resolve any dispute arising out of the agreement to such arbitration.”

HIPOLITO NOVELO REPORTING

According to Shoman, a breach of any of the terms of the Deed of Confirmation and Assurance is a trigger entitling Fortis to exercise the PUT potion requiring the government of Belize to buy the remaining shares of Forties in BEL at full book value. 

LISA SHOMAN

“This Deed of Assurance completes the totality of the compensation. This is the real cost to the Belizean people of the wrongheaded nationalization which obviously from the very beginning could have been dealt with by negotiating with Fortis to buy out their shares from the onset. Even if Belizeans get to enjoy better rates we will all be forced to pay for the privilege via this secret sinister indemnity clause.”

Reporting for Love News, I am Hipolito Novelo.