The Belize Bank Limited has still not been able to collect over $90 million dollars which was a judgment made by the Trinidad based Caribbean Court of Justice, CCJ, against the Government of Belize in the Universal Health Services matter. The CCJ made the judgment but left it up to parliament to enforce it, however, parliament voted against paying the over $90 million dollars on August 31. The bank is now seeking the court’s assistance to enforce it and today the matter was heard by the Chief Justice, Kenneth Benjamin. The Government of Belize was represented by Dr. Ben Jurotowitch QC who argued that the Government is well aware that there is a debt owed to the bank; however, paying such a debt would put a strain on the public finances. The bank was represented by Senior Counsel Eamon Courtenay who said the government should pay the debt by issuing treasury notes which would be less burdensome.
Senior Counsel Eamon Courtenay: “This is a case where the bank used money of depositors, this is money of the Belizean people that they deposited at the Belize Bank. Whatever politics the Government wants to play with this it is depositors’ money that has been lent and therefore where the Court says pay back this money the Government must pay it back. My client has said they are prepared to sit down and accept payment in installments, to accept payments in Treasury notes, to accept it over time so it can be worked out. Mr. Weight gave evidence yesterday that in fact we can receive payment by way of treasury notes in a way that would not affect Government finances and I think Government was taken aback by his candor and his honesty in the Court.”
The debt came about when the Universal Health Services, UHS, had defaulted on a loan for over $30 million dollars from the bank as a result the responsibility fell on the guarantor, the Government of Belize which was then governed by former Prime Minister Said Musa. However, when the Barrow administration came into office it refused to honor the loan. The case has been adjourned to January 11, 2019, for a decision.