The Leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister are engaged in a war with words over the impending amendments to the constitution as was ruled by the Chief Justice. The People’s United Party indicated via a letter to the Prime Minister on Friday, February 14 that, quote, “You should be in no doubt, that PUP will vigorously oppose any proposed amendment to validate your Government’s illegality. Before any such Bill should be tabled in the House of Representatives we will insist that there be a Commission of Inquiry into the scandal, and a forensic audit into this unconstitutional expenditure.” End of quote. It is a major declaration by the PUP since the Barrow administration will need their support in carrying out the Chief Justice’s ruling to have the constitution amended to accommodate the supplementary budgets that went without the approval of the House of Representatives. Briceno’s letter to the PM goes on to mention unlawful contracts where he noted, quote, “All contracts entered into by the Government without first submitting them to the Contractor General for his mandatory oversight, were made in violation of the Contractor General Act and the Finance and Audit (Reform) Act; b. Your failure to present all contracts (and other documents) for sums in excess of $5million to the House and the Senate within one month of execution was in contravention of the Finance and Audit (Reform) Act.” End of quote. Interestingly, Briceno copied several agencies in the letter namely, the InterAmerican Development Bank; the Caribbean Development Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, OEPC Fund, the European Union, the Republic of China on Taiwan and the Diplomatic Corps. Late this evening, a response to Briceno from the Prime Minister was sent out and we can tell you that the PM is not pleased in the least. The Prime Minister has called the PUP outrageous hypocrites and frauds ever known in the modern politics and governance of our country. As it relates to the supplementary bills, the PM wrote, quote, “One of the principal points in your screed of a letter, is the unbelievably self-righteous rant about the so-called illegality of Supplementary Appropriations. I point out that all Supplementary Appropriations were fully debated and overwhelmingly approved by Parliament during my tenure as Minister of Finance. Your pretend anger in this regard is a nauseating example of the patent and knowing falsity of your position.” End of quote. The 2-page letter from the Prime Minister goes on to say, quote, “As I went through your letter and its tissue of transparent innuendos and falsehoods, its whited sepulcher nature, I was especially struck by something. And it is the unfathomable effrontery and gall of your sending your jeremiad to the International Financial Institutions. After all, it is a shameful historical fact that the World Bank had by 2007 officially terminated all lending, cut off all cooperation with Belize under your People’s United Party. This happened, the Bank made clear, because of the PUP’s serial misdeeds and utter lack of transparency and accountability regarding WB funds. It was left to my Administration and its good faith performance to restore the lending program with the World Bank. That program is even now continuing and only a couple of months ago two new projects were approved for financing.” End of quote. In the end of it all, the PM issued a checkmate to Briceno, telling him that he may just not need the PUP’s support after all in amending the constitution. To quote the Prime Minister in his checkmate move, he wrote, quote, “For the avoidance of any doubt I make the following clear to you. My Administration considers the Chief Justice’s ruling entirely unsatisfactory, not least because there is as yet no reasoned, written judgment produced. We intend to appeal and seek a stay and there is, in any event, the Chief Justice’s own 6-month suspension of his injunction. We, therefore, have no intention of seeking any Constitutional amendment any time soon. It, therefore, follows that your attempt to lay down conditions for any cooperation you might consider giving the UDP, is merely another empty charade. If you actually meant to be taken seriously, I tell you now that-no doubt fittingly-you are on a fool’s errand.” End of quote. This is a developing and fluid situation which our newsroom continues to monitor.
The Leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister are engaged in a war with words over the impending amendments to the constitution as was ruled by the Chief Justice. The People’s United Party indicated via a letter to the Prime Minister on Friday, February 14 that, quote, “You should be in no doubt, that PUP will vigorously oppose any proposed amendment to validate your Government’s illegality.