Among several other issues that arose in the House of Representatives meeting earlier today was the unfortunate mix of politics into the COVID-19 relief efforts. Leader of the Opposition, John Briceno, began this conversation over the Easter weekend when he accused the Barrow administration of politicizing the distribution of aid and finances whilst threatening to remove himself from the National Oversight Committee. Love News had asked the Prime Minister for a comment on the matter but he had declined. Today, however, he spoke on the issue of a national approach on the pandemic and where he stands today on the matter.
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize: “When I realized that we were going to be overtaken by this particular crisis I reached out to your leader and I reached out to all the social partners to propose the formation of this National Oversight Committee so that we could deal with the crisis in the only way that the circumstances called for in terms of a national unity effort and throughout I have been clear in maintaining my focus and my insistence on treating this thing in the way it should be and in refusing to allow it to be infected by any kind of partisan games. So when that kind of oneupmanship is resorted to this morning I don’t feel upset but Madam Speaker I’m not going to quarrel. I have to be bigger than they are, I have to recognize that I must be true to the instincts that guided me at the start, I must be true to the recognition that nothing other than a national unity effort can suffice in the current circumstances. There has been no effort and there is certainly nothing on the application form with respect to the food assistance program, no effort to exclude a single solitary soul.”
According to the Prime Minister a seat at the table of the National Oversight Committee remains for the Leader of the Opposition if he wants it. He added that Briceno must put country over party.
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize: “From the time the Leader of the Opposition made a statement on Holy Saturday where he talked about contemplating, the PUP contemplating it’s options and he asserted that well there was no longer any certainty on their part as to continuing with the unity effort I didn’t answer him you know ? I didn’t answer him and I think this action today is in that same vein. Well I need to tell you Madam Speaker, I need to tell his this house, I need to tell the Leader of the Opposition and I need to tell the People’s United Party I will do absolutely nothing to encourage any kind of breakup of that national unity effort so he can act in a way that I might consider bad faith, he can holler what he wants to holler, he can scream till the cows come home I will not respond. If he and the PUP want to go let them go on their own. We will continue to focus on national unity, we will continue to do everything we can to show the complete good faith that the circumstances require and we Madam Speaker, even if the Opposition Leader and his party want to go I am positive together with the social partners we will absolutely see this thing through for the sake of the Belizean people.”