Another matter of abusive spending in government was the hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal expenses that Net Vasquez had incurred using the resources of Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL). BNTU’s Elena Smith also touched on this issue saying that the misuse of funds at BTL are monies that could have been used in education for teachers and students.
Elena Smith, President, Belize National Teachers Union: “Had he been held accountable you know I’m sure that there’s some finance department or auditors that kind of thing who would have gone through those things. I mean had he been held accountable we would not have been here where we are, that matter could have been stopped from long ago it would not have reached to this point. So just imagine that money, our students right now, our teachers right now could have been having internet at school free internet for them to be able to do their work as teachers, be able to have these things for their students. But instead they have to be using their own from their homes which is not working so good and you go and you double up your speed because you know you want it faster and even when you double up your speed it’s still not working the way it should. It frustrates you to the point where you wish you yourself could do something to fix it or to hold the persons accountable because you have to be struggling so hard to get what you want and here somebody comes and is just given something and you just abuse it. So sometimes I think we are soft when it comes to certain persons or certain things and we say ‘well we won’t take it to court just pay it back’ that kind of thing as if though well we’re sorry for you. And these are the kinds of sentiments that cause other persons to not be afraid to do the same thing because they know ‘well I can do it and I will not go to jail, I won’t go to court, my family will not be pushed through the mud’ but if Rene goes and steals a deodorant out a store you will hear about all of Rene’s business and how much children they have and who their father is and everything and you’ll have to be paying for that plus three, four, five times what that cost. So again we are a society who we don’t hold people accountable the way we should we don’t enforce things and that is what has us where we are. So we again, it goes right back again to UNCAC, all of these things bring us right back to UNCAC and the proper implementation of these different phases to ensure that we can hold these persons accountable it doesn’t matter how long. You can leave government five, six, years and we can still go back and come after you but if we don’t have the things in place then we will never be able to recover. So if I come and I say six years ago I was president of BNTU and I got a check for a thousand dollars but I don’t remember I got that check because it’s too long ago so I won’t pay it back I only remember the check that I got last year which was fifty dollars, I mean come on. So we as a people have to ensure that we push for the proper things to be put in place whether it’s legislation, whether it’s enforcement to hold people accountable. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you work as long as you are spending the public’s funds you must be held accountable.”
As we reported this week, Net Vasquez has repaid some of the monies to BTL but has now retained an attorney to dispute the repayment of some of the expenses. Net Vasquez was the longest serving Chairman at the Belize Telemedia Limited. Late last year it was revealed that during his term he had charged several personal expenses to the company’s credit card amounting to some four hundred thousand dollars. He had also secured benefits for his former company, Channel 7, by providing free phone and internet services for 12 years. In addition, he had secured an extremely lucrative contract for Channel 7 with payments made in advance. Love News understands that to date the matter has not been passed on to the Police for a criminal investigation to be launched.