Second bill seeks to reinforce Central Bank Bill

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Updated: January 27, 2017

A second bill to amend the Crown Proceedings Act also went through its three readings. The bill amended specifically Chapter 167 of the Laws of Belize revised edition 2011 to make provisions relating to enforcements of foreign judgments against Belize. Barrow explained.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“This is dealing with the assets of government qua government, separate and distinct from the Central Bank and as I’m sure all members would be far more concerned, to protect the assets of the Central Bank than the regular assets of government. We are in the hurly burly and in the normal course we are as a matter of the naturalness of things exposed to having to withstand assaults on the assets of the government in the event we lose cases and again this does arise out of what is happening in the US. There as I’ve said there are these judgments that have been finalized by the US jurisdiction which now are being sought to be enforced. Madam Speaker, in the normal course if these, had been judgments fairly won on the merits of a situation where government was clearly in the wrong, there would be no problem, we would simply have to stand tall and deal with the obligations. But the circumstances of what is happening in the US, I repeat are extraordinary, extremely peculiar. Here it is that in the case of BCB Holdings and the Belize Bank Limited the judgment they got in the US is despite the decision of the CCJ saying that the bargain they had made with the last government and which ultimately went to arbitration was , I want to stay away from epithets, was absolutely without the power of the executive was unconstitutional and therefore cannot be enforced.

Leader of the Opposition John Briceno complained that the People’s United Party received late notice of the bills for which Barrow apologized saying that some members of the PUP cannot be trusted in respect to this particular issue.

 John Briceno – Opposition Leader

“I would have hoped that the Prime Minister could have given us more time to look at the bill, we are just seeing it right now and we haven’t had enough time to study it and consult with us.  I want to place on record of course we want to cooperate with the government but we are not given time and for the Prime Minister to pass it through the stages today is certainly not being fair to us to be able to take a good and comprehensive look and probably help him in trying to strengthen it if he is missing anything in the bill.”

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“Madam Speaker,  I apologize, the leader of the opposition is right that it is very short notice indeed but these are the exigencies of the situation.  I indicated that it was on Tuesday that we received notice of the application being filed in the States to seek enforcement of those judgments. So we had to move very quickly, we didn’t want to tip our hand and in fact the draftpersons only finished with this bill late yesterday evening. I don’t think the clerk had eyes on it until perhaps 5 or sometime after 5. Number two, as to the matter of consultation, I apologize Mr. Leader of the Opposition but without wishing to cast any aspersions, we don’t think that in a matter like this we can trust some members of the opposition and there is a factual basis for that. One of your key officials I will not call any names because this is serious business and it ought not to be about finger pointing or assignment of blame, but one of your key people you know is the chief local counsel to the Ashcroft concerns that alone would oblige us to feel that we could not beforehand consult with you, in other circumstances it would have been imperative but in this particular case both because of the pressures of time but for that other supervening reason I apologize but we could not consult.”

John Briceno – Opposition Leader

“ Madam Speaker,  I really need to put this, since the Prime Minister based on what he said that I really take this personally, that in effect the Prime Minister is saying I, as the Leader of the Opposition would put the interest of somebody else in my party before I put the interest of this country. You don’t trust me Mr. Prime Minister, you could have called me. The Prime Minister could have called me but that is the impression that I get.”

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“Madam speaker could I clarify? On the last occasion I said something about family connections and partnerships I particularly did not say that just now because I mean not to impugn you at all and I spoke about one of your officials who is a lawyer, you are not a lawyer, it could never be you sir.

John Briceno – Opposition Leader

“He would only know if you tell me and I tell him.”

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“But you would have an obligation to consult with him.”

John Briceno – Opposition Leader

“If you tell me that it is something of national interest and we have to keep it between ourselves then we have to do that. We are both here representing the country.”

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“Then madam speaker I will apologize and say that on the next occasion I will consult you, I hope there is never another occasion.”

A division was requested by the Deputy Prime Minister and in a rare occasion, all the representatives present at today’s House Sitting voted in favor of the two bills. Freetown Representative, Francis Fonseca and Orange Walk North Area Representative, Gaspar Vega, were absent.