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Opposition leader calls again for Petro Caribe Act to be repealed

There was no debate of the proposed amendments to the Petro Caribe Loans Act in the House of Representatives last Friday after the Opposition, People’s United Party walked out.  Today the PUP held a press conference at which Opposition Leader, Francis Fonseca called the Act, an insult to the Belizean people. He reiterated his party’s call for the Act to be repealed.

Francis Fonseca – Leader of the Opposition

These laws are not worth the paper they are written on. In every corner of this country the call has been loud and clear, the Petro Caribe loans act must be repealed not amended, repealed. It must go. That call as the Belizean people know has come not only from the opposition People’s United Party but that call has also come from the NTUCB, just recently as you all  may know just last week the BNTU which is a part of the umbrella organization NTUCB hosted a very informative forum on this very issue, the Petro Caribe loans act where they had very distinguished speakers, panelists presenting on this act and the overwhelming conclusion of those panelists has been very clear that this is a bad law for Belize, it is a bad law for our country, it is a law that must be repealed.”

Fonseca said the PUP was prepared to put on the table their alternative bill, one that was designed for Belize.

Francis Fonseca – Leader of the Opposition

“This bill is not drafted from scratch, it is fashioned from Belize’s Petroleum revenue management act which in turn was based on recommendations from the Commonwealth Secretariat Petroleum advisors to Belize. Our draft bill proposes the introduction of Petro Caribe revenue management fund provisions on the use of the fund, provisions dealing with annual as well as exceptional withdraws from the fund and independent oversight board drawn from a list of esteemed local organizations and transparency and public access to information. Our proposed bill is therefore based on the product designed for Belize and which is already in effect and has been demonstrated to work in other territories. We reiterate that we fully endorse acceptance of the Petro Caribe funds but we insist that there must be transparency, accountability and compliance with law in the use of these funds.”

Fonseca said the Prime Minister is out of control and taking Belize down a very dangerous road, seeing himself above the law. Deputy Party Leader, Julius Espat said over the years, the House of Representatives has not been conducive to health debate on issues.

Julius Espat, PUP Deputy Party Leader

The House of Representatives has not become and is not an environment in my opinion conducive to proper debate. It is not an environment where you can truly express and represent the concerns of the Belizean people. In reality this government directed by the Honorable Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of this country, has turned the house into something that we are ashamed of. I am ashamed, the people I speak to and speak to me are ashamed of and that is something we have to change and we insist that the Speaker of the House, whenever we form government has to be somebody that is objective. It is quite obvious out there that he is a member of the United Democratic Party. It is obvious out there that he follows the direction of his leaders. It is obvious out there that he will do everything and anything possible to censor the opposition from speaking the truth and in reality for a democracy to work, you have to have two sides debating but the Belizean people also have to realize that the House of Representatives is not the only arena where debates can go on and that’s why we are here today. We will continue to discuss the issues, that’s why we are here to represent our people and we are here to tell the Belizean people the other side of the story.”