Statutory Instrument 134 was not the only matter that Senator Mark Lizarraga spoke on today. According to the Senator the private sector will be lobbying for an audit of Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL) following the leak of the company’s credit card statement that showed exorbitant spending and cash withdrawals by its former Chairman Nestor Vasquez. In speaking on the issue Senator Lizarraga made a bold statement saying that such a scandal is not unusual under the current administration and that such incidents have been highlighted on multiple occasions.
Mark Lizarraga, Senator for the Business Community: “What’s happening at BTL is emblematic of a much larger problem. How many times have we been victims and witnesses to the misuse and abuse of publicly owned funds and assets? How many times have we seen the abuse by those in this administration or individuals empowered by this administration to manage our people’s money and property? How many times have we seen this abuse and misuse and we’ve seen this from Ministers, from boards, and from management of many of the publicly owned assets and institutions. How many people sit on boards and subscribe to the best practices and take seriously their fiduciary responsibility as board members? How many people have we seen really take their jobs seriously when they sit representing the people on these government owned and quasi government institutions? And certainly this administration cannot plead ignorance to the long existing issues. I can give you but three examples. This government came to power knowing that we had structural things that we needed to address, they passed laws to address them but what has happened to the enforcement of those laws? What has happened to the level of scrutiny and seriousness when it comes to the management of our public funds and our publicly owned assets? This is the cancer that has taken root and this is the cancer that is eating away at many of our publicly owned bodies at this time and you have run countless stories on this I don’t need to remind you of all those many instances of flagrant abuse over the last decade.”
Like BTL, Senator Lizarraga said that there are several other Government departments that needs to be audited.
Mark Lizarraga, Senator for the Business Community: “I think before you get to that I think there has to be a will first of all by those entrusted with these publicly owned assets. There has to be this will that they acknowledge their responsibility their fiduciary responsibility that look we have to take care of this because it’s not ours. We’re entrusted with the management of these assets for and on behalf of the people of Belize and we have a legal responsibility to ensure that we properly manage them and we properly account for the expenses and for the income of these bodies. All the bodies, bodies that we’ve seen listed constantly in the AG’s report – and there are other institutions that we’ve been saying need to be audited: The BTB, the public utilities commission and all the other quasi government owned institutions, the APBEL, the PetroCaribe fund all of those things need to be but this attitude prevails in that there’;s no accountability, there’s no transparency in many of these institutions how they manage on behalf of the people and how they use or abuse of the people’s money and resources. So the law is clear in many instances we’ve seen that people have clearly broken the law the Auditor General highlights many of these instances i her reports every time she puts out a report and how many times have we seen people pay the penalties or feel the full brunt of the law in these cases? So it seems there is an absolute lack of will on the part of this administration.”
Later on in our newscast we’ll bring you the Senator’s views on the Equal Opportunity Bill that was shelved and the defunct Public Accounts Committee.