PUP Parliamentarians and their legal counsel met today to discuss the way forward as it relates to the recent ruling by the Chief Justice on the PetroCaribe monies. The Chief Justice has ordered that the constitution be amended to facilitate multiple supplementary budgets that were never taken to the House of Representatives for approval as is required by the Finance and Audit Reform Act; subsequently, deeming the spending of over one billion dollars illegal. According to the Leader of the Opposition, John Briceno, they want an audit done on the PetroCaribe funds prior to them giving their support for the amendments. PUP’s Kareem Musa was on The Morning Show today and gave his views that he will present in the meeting.
Hon. Kareem Musa, Area Representative, Caribbean Shores: “As you know the Chief Justice has handed down a decision and part of his decision is that there is an injunction that will be put in place within six months so at the expiration of six months from the date of his decision an injunction will take effect if the constitution is not amended to rectify the wrongdoings of Dean Barrow in the last twelve years. So we have monies that have been spent without the authorization of the National Assembly in accordance with our constitution and in accordance with the Finance and Audit Reform Act. What I am saying because I know that we are having a meeting this afternoon but what I am saying is at least from a personal position I cannot agree to assist a Prime Minister in amending the constitution if I do not first get an accounting for that money. This is not $40,000 like Joshua Perdomo you know ? This is $1.5 billion dollars with a ‘B’, with a ‘B’ like Barrow. $1.5 billion dollars that has been spent and has been spent without the authorization of the National Assembly and so we need to get a proper forensic accounting from the Prime Minister if we’re even going to entertain a discussion of supporting him to give him that two thirds majority to amend the constitution.”
After the meeting, Chairman of the party, Henry Usher told Love News that the recommendations made by parliamentarians will be assessed further in a sub-committee which will then be taken to the National Executive by Wednesday. The National Executive will then decide what will be the final decisions as it relates to the CJ ruling. According to the Chairman, other preceding issues were also discussed at the meeting.
Henry Usher, Chairman, People’s United Party: “The party will meet as a national executive because coming out of this parliamentary caucus the matter has to be taken to the national executive for a resolution. Once that resolution is passed, and we believe that it will, we will then call in the media to explain exactly what steps, what action, what further moves the party will be making in reference to this particular judgment and with other issues. Because remember there are a lot of issues on the table, we have Auditor General’s report, the unreasonable delay in this Senate Inquiry report, why is it that the chair of the Senate Inquiry report cannot come out with a draft after two years. These are all issues that were brought up this afternoon, these are all issues that I’m sure the National Executive of the party will be bringing up next week and thereafter we will be telling the media what we’ll do after.”
As we noted, the PUP is adamant about having an audit on the PetroCaribe monies be carried out. It is an ambitious request if the timing is a factor. According to Usher, they are not certain how much time an audit would take but it is all dependent on the auditor.
Henry Usher, Chairman, People’s United Party: “That will be up to the auditor. I’m not sure, I wouldn’t be the one carrying out the audit but certainly it has to be demanded and that has to be precedent or something that has to happen first before we even talk about going into any kind of constitutional amendment and if it means that it will take longer than the Chief Justice gave then you go back to court and you get an extension of that injunction or you get an application to extend the injunction further. This thing has to be fixed properly before we can even start talking about trying to fix what happened in the past.”