For the past two days, we have been reporting on leaked documents which show questionable financial transactions carried out by the Public Utilities Commission, PUC. Today the PUC fired off a statement in which it states that what has been reported are erroneous and defamatory statements about the PUC and its commissioners. According to the statement, there is no audit report for the PUC for the period ending March 31, 2017, that the Auditor engaged by the PUC did not prepare any document for the Prime Minister as part of the audit process, that the alleged documents that are being circulated are not the official records of the PUC, are unsubstantiated, and are not related to any ongoing audit. And while that is the position of the PUC, today the media asked the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dean Barrow, about it.
DEAN BARROW, PRIME MINISTER OF BELIZE
“Couple of months ago, in the interest of full disclosure, an ex-employee of the PUC provided me with a copy of an interim report. I spoke to Mr. Avery who said that he was in the process of answering or addressing all the issues that I saw raised in that report. My understanding from what he said on the news is that he has done so and that he too is awaiting the final version which presumably will at least make reference to whatever explanations he gave in terms of what was raised that I saw in the preliminary report. I would certainly have to await the sight of the final audit before I can determine a course of action. Remember that the PUC is autonomous; if you look at the law autonomous. The good Mr. Fonseca not Francis, the other Mr. Fonseca when he was in charge switched from the situation in which all PUC revenues had to go into the consolidated fund to be turned over to the Ministry of Finance to a situation where they collect all those fees for themselves while I believe the law obliges them to submit a budget; if they control all that source of revenue I can see how they might have been accustomed to thinking that they can spend those monies as they please. Figuring no doubt that as they please this formula for in the interest of the PUC. That’s all I think I ought to say for at this juncture.”
According to the Prime Minister, the matter deals with two issues of spending; how much is being spent and if the spending is related to PUC activities.