Mark Lizarraga’s Participation in NEAC Appeal Tribunal Sparks Controversy

Mark Lizarraga’s Participation in NEAC Appeal Tribunal Sparks Controversy

Will Mark Lizarraga concede to the Ashcroft Alliance and recuse himself from NEAC appeal’s tribunal? In July, the Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL) Chairman was appointed to the tribunal tasked with reviewing the DOE’s decision to deny environmental clearance to Waterloo’s Port of Belize expansion project. However, the decision for him to serve as the Private Sector representative was opposed by Waterloo. The company wrote to Lizarraga in August asking him to step aside due to a perceived bias. The company stated that Lizarraga, being appointed by the prime minister, receives a substantial six-figure salary to serve as BTL’s Chairman of the Board of Directors and does so entirely at the prime minister’s pleasure. The company strongly opposed the appointment and alleged a conflict of interest because the Prime Minister, in their opinion, showed a preference toward the Portico project. But, according to Minister of Sustainable Environment Orlando Habet, Lizarraga continues to serve on the panel.

Orlando Habet, Minister of Sustainable Development: “Just the initial request I think that has to go to Mr.Lizarraga to decide whether or not he wants to step down and then the tribunal looks at it but it’s nothing the ministry will have a say on because we have already named him, he has accepted and so the tribunal makes its down decisions when it comes to that.”

Reporter: So Waterloo is saying that if he remains on the tribunal they thing it would be biased. Do you share those same thoughts that the ruling would be biased if he remains on.

Orlando Habet, Minister of Sustainable Development: “I don’t share the same position that they do. I think we have to have this open source where we can get professionals out there. We have representations from the private sector with Mr.Lizarraga and we have a scientist on the team and so that’s what the tribunal calls for. The thing with the request from Waterloo is that to me it is a delaying process so you name somebody they will find something they’ll try to delay the process so it goes on forever but I think the tribunal has already met and they will meet again. I think they have already put out some of the dates in which they will meet and some of the things that they require before the court.”

The original legislation that governs the NEAC Tribunal, initially stated that the private sector should be represented by the Senator for the private sector, Kevin Herrera.  Following a conflict of interest where Herrera’s brother is contracted by Waterloo, the legislation was altered.  The alteration gave Minister Habet the option to appoint someone from the private sector which led to Lizarraga joining the commission.

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