Yesterday, Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA) spoke to Love News about their concerns as it relates to Belize’s economic state; specifically, the fifty five million dollar shares being bought by the Social Security Board from Belize Telecommunications Limited and Belize Electricity Limited. COLA has since then met with attorney Kareem Musa, to seek legal advice. President Geovanni Brackett spoke to the media.
“The first matter is that when we looked at that judgment what that judgment is saying I don’t know the exact figure but we know it’s supposed to be over $350 million if one figure is correct it could be well over $400 million by the time we are finished paying. To me that judgment clearly indicates any idea of any profitability of buying shares into BTL. I think that from the minute that government had taken it over we have seen a decrease in terms of profits from when it was under the Ashcroft Alliance. What we’ve been saying is that we felt from the very get go that if the government had been more strategic in taking over BTL and if they had just settled from the time that they had the time to settle as you will hear our attorney explain the government could have settled this matter a long time ago rather than dragging this through the mud and dropping it at the mercy of the tribunal. Our attorney will explain that in detail and it shows that we never stood a chance at winning so the only persons who benefit out of this fight were the lawyers who were being paid.”
Attorney Kareem Musa explains why the matter could have been settled back in 2009 and spoke of section fourteen of the tribunal that is of concern to them.
“Let us not forget that had Mr.Barrow settled this matter in 2009 when he acquired the company it would have saved the Belizean people a hell of a lot of money so now we have to pick up the pieces and we have to cover for Mr.Barrow having dragged this out for a whole eight years not only in the Supreme Court but in the court of appeal, the Caribbean Court of Justice and now finally the tribunal and what I mentioned to Mr.Bracket and the members of COLA this morning to me the thing that stood out most was found that page 14 of the tribunal’s decision because it was something that was revealed in this decision that was not revealed by the Prime Minister when he went and settled with Michael Ashcroft in September of 2015. Basically what the Prime Minister did when he went to settle in September 2015 was to throw himself and the nation at the mercy of the tribunal. He withdrew all legal arguments, he withdrew them that is what is clearly stated in the settlement deed that it has conceded to the jurisdiction of the tribunal and that it withdraws all legal arguments and that it is now throwing itself to the mercy of the tribunal, you decide “tribunal what will be the quantum of the damages that we will have to pay.
Musa explained that the Belize public should have been made aware of the decisions being made at the Social Security Board.
“The Belizean public has a legitimate expectation that whenever the government or it’s political cronies are about to spend hard earned contributions we are talking about. Whenever the Prime Minister or politically appointed cronies are about to spend the hard earned contributions of our people our people must have a say. There is a legitimate expectation that our people must have a say in how our hard earned contributions are going to be invested and invested in a company that in my opinion is going to be obsolete in the next ten years, that there has been no forensic audit carried out on this company. Let us bear in mind that it has been under government control and with the stewardship of the Prime Minister’s son for the last 8 years. We have seen no forensic audit to see if this company is even viable and yet SSB and it’s board is being expected and asked to invest ,blindly ,the people’s money in a company that we have seen a decline in profits over the years. So this nonsense now that Doug Singh is going on TV and saying that this is a lucrative investment on behalf of the Belizean people explain how it is that this company has been losing money. Every year the profits have been going down, explain that to the Belizean public and say to them that that is lucrative.”
With the nationalization of the Belize Telemedia, Musa spoke on why Lord Michael Ashcraft should have kept ownership of BTL and explained why the Belizean public will now have to pay twice the amount.
“Had the Prime Minister not taken on this company away from Mr.Ashcroft Mr.Ashcroft as head of BTL would have in the normal course of business received his returns from this company the same way that Anwar Barrow on behalf of the Belizean people is receiving returns from this company. So now we are being asked to pay double.”