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NEWCO 6 Million US Debt to be Paid and Politicians “Ketch” Feelings

That was the beginning of the House Meeting and that was also the end of the niceties.  The honorable gentlemen got into a bit of professional mudslinging by referring to nepotism in one family followed by the member from Cayo South Julius Espat referring to John Saldivar as Danny Mason, the man in whose vehicle the police found the head of Pastor Llewlyn Lucas in a bucket. But what led into the mudslinging requires a bit of background information.  In 2005, a European group called NEWCO received a 30-year concession to manage the Philip Goldson International Airport from the Musa administration. Shortly after, the Government cancelled the deal and that led to arbitration in Miami, Florida.  The Tribunal ruled in favor of NEWCO and Belize then owed NEWCO $4.259 million US dollars plus costs of court and interest payments; a model of how many court cases have been handled since by the government.  The Government then took its case to the Supreme Court which also ruled in 2013, that Newco’s claim for an enforcement order was well founded. So fast forward to 2018, the Barrow Administration has decided to work out a deal with NEWCO and to pay its principals six million US dollars in two equal installments. The first installment is due on October 30th and the on September 30th, 2019. If you recall the Opposition walked out of the last House Meeting since the Government deferred payment for the Universal HealthCare debt.  The NEWCO settlement upset the Opposition since it thinks the Government is cherry picking which debts to settle.

Leader of the Opposition John Briceno: “It is quite ironic that just months ago this Honorable House met to debate another motion which was the UHS settlement., a motion that the UDP Government introduced only for them to vote down or vote no, now this UHS motion was a settlement judgment that was handed down by the highest court in the land, The Caribbean Court of Justice and again the government decided that they were going to go against the wishes of the highest courts in  the land and now today but one month later we are here to be debating another settlement agreements our next agreement motion for an arbitration that was handed down outside of our jurisdiction in the United States of America. They will selectively decide what they will pay and when they will pay. In effect if you are good to them they will pay and if you are not they punish you which begs to question again why has the government decided to bring this Bill now.”

John Saldivar, Minister of National Security: “That perhaps the member for Orange Walk Central should have kept quiet. Perhaps it’s a case of the right hand of his party not agreeing with what the left hand of his party was doing at the time. Let me make it abundantly clear that what we are bringing here to the house this morning to resolve is a settlement that was brought about because of the misdeeds and corruption of the People’s United Party. These people came into the country with a bonafide business plan, sold that plan to the government of today and they signed a contract with these people for the management of the airport but lo and behold less than a year later the people’s United Party Government turned around and canceled that contract to give it to the brother of the then Prime Minister of Belize and his friends.”

Leader of the Opposition: “Can i make a correction Madam Speaker and it was four years afterwards if you look at your notes properly sir, it was canceled four years afterwards because they were not performing, look at the notes man.”

Speaker: “Fact of the matter is they cancelled the contract.”

Honorable Said Musa: “Madam Speaker the point of order, the Minister made a statement which is a total falsehood, untruth that the PUP government gave this contract to the brother of the then Prime Minister, that is  false, untrue, a lie.

Julius Espat, Cayo South Representative : “Madam Speaker I think it’s important that we have an analysis of the chronological order of what happen and I will respond to the honorable Mason from Belmopan with his remarks.

Michael Finnegan, Mesopotamia  Area Representative: “Madam Speaker I take strong objection to the behavior by the member of Cayo South. The member from Belmopan should not be referred to as he referred to the member. Let us behave with civility and with dignity in the house. There are young people in here and let us behave like parliamentarians. I think you owe an apology to this gentleman. If you want to refer to the man as that wait until we go on rostrum and when we are fighting in this meeting, this is a parliamentary sitting. Speak to the man with the dignity and the kind of decorum he deserves.

Julius Espat, Cayo South Representative: “I do accept what the speaker from Mesopotamia has said it just came in my mind and my thought so I do apologize.”

The Belize Airport Concession Company received the deal to run the airport after the NEWCO deal was cancelled.