On Wednesday the Government of Belize lost a case against the Belize Bank and was ordered by the Caribbean Court of Justice to pay the bank an arbitration award that was granted to the institution since 2013. The case dates back to 2004 when the Said Musa led government signed as guarantor for a loan agreement between the Belize Bank and Universal Health Services. After the private institution was unable to meet its debts, the Government had to shoulder the bill. The matter ended up in court and the Supreme Court of Belize and Court of Appeals found the loan note to be invalid. However, in 2013 an arbitration panel ruled differently and an arbitration award in excess of thirty-seven million Belize dollars was granted to the Belize Bank. But Prime Minister Dean Barrow had refused to make any payments and over the years, the loan accrued in excess of fifty million dollars in interest alone sending the total payment now owed to over ninety million dollars, not including the cost of court. Today, Deputy Prime Minister Patrick Faber reiterated government’s disappointment in the ruling.
Deputy Prime Minister Patrick Faber
“It continues to have us make the point that the horrors and the evils of the last PUP administration continue to haunt us. Of course, our position is that this is not something that we should be paying at all, there are no benefits to the Belizean people and so it’s an absolute nightmare for us that this is the outcome coming from the CCJ. I don’t think that this is a burden that the Belizean taxpayers should be carrying at all and it’s going to deprive us of money that we could be doing a whole lot more things with -education, of course, is in my view top on that list. Wherever the money is going to come from you can be sure that it’s going to shortchange something else that we could be using the monies for development purposes so it’s a shame what is happening.”
The court’s ruling will be discussed in the House of Representatives to either pay up and how or the vote can also be to not honor the court’s order. The DPM said the matter is a delicate one.
Patrick Faber, Deputy Prime Minister
“That size of loan agreement needs the approval of the House of Representatives, you could argue that the Senate doesn’t have to approve it but it will go to the Senate none the less and we need the support of the house. Now whether the house will support or no that is a question that we have to discuss and we have to decide on because you don’t want to be caught in a situation where you seem to be guiding the country’s leadership or is guiding us to break the law or send the wrong signal to the international community in terms of confidence in our economy. So we have to be very careful we are treading on very difficult waters here but at the same time we are guided by what is right, what ought to be and what is best for the Belizean people.”