It has been almost eleven years now since the famous Accommodation Agreement was signed in September 2005. Yet, the 31-page document remains alive as the debt it has brought to the country is an unprecedented half billion dollars. Prime Minister, Dean Barrow has laid the blame squarely on the Said Musa administration of 1998 to 2008, saying that had they not enter into this secret deal, there would have been no need for all the litigations and high debt that Belize is now forced to pay. PUP Senator, Eamon Courtenay who is also one of Lord Michael Ashcroft’s attorneys, disagrees with the Prime Minister. Here is his rationale.
“An agreement is fair depending on who negotiates it and what our objectives are. It’s not a legal question it’s just like the settlement agreement. The settlement agreement is legal and binding whether it was good or not or if in the interest of the Belizean people is a matter for all of us experts, economists, accountants, business people to look at and make their own judgments. Let me just say this, in so far as the accommodation agreement is concerned the facts are that it was signed. The government has never challenged the legality of it, that is what the Prime Minister should have done gone to court and have the court declare that it is null and void, he has not done it. Thirdly the arbitral tribunal has held that it was valid, held that it was valid, Mr.Barrow did not appeal that to the high court in England. The point that we make is this, that today we are having to pay hundreds of millions of dollars for an agreement that Mr.Barrow said was unlawful. He could have used the PUC to regulate it, he could have passed laws to make the situation different. What we have in fact is litigation unending for years and then a settlement in Miami in 2015 between two men where no one else was present as far as I understand it and we all have to pay the price for it many years later. My fundamental point is this, whether or not the agreement is good or not is one issue, the second issue is whether or not it is valid. If the government felt when it came into power that it was not in the interest of Belizeans there were mechanisms to deal with it, they didn’t adopt any. Thirdly they should have gone to court to challenge it, they didn’t. Mr.Barrow went to Miami and negotiated to accept that a value would be attributed to it let’s not forget that, he accepted that a value is to be attributed to it. How could he say that it is unlawful and yet agree that a value should be attributed to it.”
Last Thursday, the Leader of the Opposition, John Briceno spoke to the media on the BTL Arbitration Award saying that the Barrow administration has set up Belize and Belizeans to get caught up in a perfect storm with all the debts being incurred.