While the blame was thrown back and forth across the Senate floor yesterday, the reality is that Government had to take out its “ACE card” to safeguard the assets of the country and the foreign reserves of the Central Bank. And while the government has made it a criminal offense to attached GOB’s assets in legal proceedings, those proceedings came attached with millions of dollars of legal fees. This could have all been avoided says Lead Opposition Senator, Eamon Courtenay.
Senator Eamon Courtenay
“When the arbitration was commenced, the question that arose and the question that Belizeans wanted to know the answer to is the following; when the Government of Belize was taken to arbitration over the accommodation agreement, who defended the interest of Belize? Did the government of Belize defend the interest of Belize in the arbitration? Did the government of Belize hire any attorney to represent Belize’s interest in the arbitration? The answer Mr. President and members of this honorable senate is no, no, no. The United Democratic Party government when faced with an arbitration proceeding did not participate, did not defend Belize and did not hire anyone to go and defend our interest. The result is an undefended arbitration award, $19 million US dollars, interest continues to accrue and it is over $22 million US dollars and nobody defended Belize’s interest.”
After the Senate concluded its business, the media approached Michael Peyrefitte who apart from being a UDP Senator is also the Attorney General. We asked him why the government did not defend the arbitration suit at its initial stage.
Senator Michael Peyrifitte
“You know it was foolishness and it would never fly in our local courts. We knew that what the then Prime Minister did was completely illegal, we were not going to be a part of a sham, we were not going to be a part of a charade, waste legal fees, because then had we done that, we would have had criticism for that. So, that was the one instance that we said that it was expensive to do arbitration in those territories. We don’t know how long it will take but we knew that those could never be enforced here in Belize so we didn’t even waste any time with that.”