In the last House Meeting, Area Representative for Cayo South, Julius Espat, brought up the issue of the 10 year contract awarded to Brad’s Gaming Company. He also made mention that Prime Minister Dean Barrow’s son was one of the stakeholders in the company benefitting from this contract. Caribbean Shores Area Rep attempted to revisit the issue, but since it had already been debated, he was unable to. However, that didn’t stop him from airing his concerns.
Hon.Kareem Musa, Area Representative, Caribbean Shores: “The issue of urgent national importance that I would like to raise having had the opportunity to reflect on this side of the house for five years is the issue of nepotism in government and how dangerous it is Madam Speaker. The Prime Minister once said in an interview, I don’t know if it was Channel 5 or Channel 7, that nepotism is not corruption those were his words. But I can tell you Madam Speaker than having a sat of this side of the House and watched all the transactions that have taken place each and every budget debate that I come to this house and I go to the Ministry of finance and I find in their spending and expenditures that little category that says “Legal and Administrative Fees” every year Madam Speaker since I’ve been here it has been $5 million plus in legal and administrative fees. Now we have an Attorney General’s ministry Madam Speaker that’s supposed to have conduct of all cases for the government but what we have seen over the last five years or rather I should say 10 years because even before I was elected since 2008 we know that the favorite attorney for the government was Lois Young Barrow. That was the first term government. Millions of dollars paid out to the ex-wife of the Prime Minister Madam Speaker; very taxing on our treasury, on our money Madam Spaeker- the country’s coffers, very costly because it all surrounded cases involving a fight between the Prime Minister and Lord Michael Ashcroft and I am absolutely no fan of Lord Michael Ashcraft Madam Speaker but any 1,2,3 lawyer could’ve told you that if you’re going to take somebody’s property you will have to pay for it that’s what the law says. You will have to compensate him for it. So I don’t understand why we had to pay out tens of millions of dollars for a very minor law a very easy law to understand, the constitution says that you know ? You can’t arbitrarily deprive someone of their property but the Prime Minister nonetheless engaged his family members because after Lois Young Barrow it was brother Dennis. Again I’ve seen wire transfers I’m not going to table and motion but I’ve seen wire transfers up to $5 million to brother Dennis Madam Speaker and other family members who are lawyers have benefited from this administration giving them private legal contracts. “
The Prime Minister then stood up to refute the claims of nepotism within the Barrrow Administration.
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize: “I did I’m sure at some point make the declaration that what is commonly referred to as nepotism is not ipso facto since you’re a lawyer or getting there, corruption. That what is corruption is if somebody in a position of authority gives some appointments to a family member when that family member is not qualified for the appointment. If somebody in a position of authority awards a contract to a family member not on the basis of merit but simply because the person in authority is trying to advantage that family member that is indeed nepotism. This is not just my understanding of the word, my common sense understanding because what I’m saying must be crystal clear. This is a matter that has been legally determined. There was long before you dreamed of getting into politics a time when I was the Attorney General of this country and in fact the government did retain my brother to do a case in court and on appeal that issue was brought up by the other side whether something could be made of the fact that I was the Attorney General and the lawyer representing the government was my brother and the court of appeal said that’s absolute nonsense; he’s a lawyer, he’s a very good lawyer, the fees that were paid in accordance with the professional schedule sees that could not be nepotism. Let me make what I’m saying even clearer by citing an example that’s much closer to home for you. When your father made your brother the head of NICH was that nepotism sir? I didn’t see it is nepotism, we never complained because your brother is an artist, he’s a legitimate artist, he clearly is very knowledgeable about culture and arts and so he got that job based on merit. You cannot have a situation in which family members of politicians will be excluded from any chance at bidding for public contracts simply because they are family members of people in the government.”
Brad’s Contract for full management of lottery services in Belize will expire in 2030.