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Senators agree to settle payment to Glenn Godfrey

The Senate met on Wednesday and looked at five bills brought from the House of Representatives. Among them is the settlement with Glenn Godfrey. This pertains to a Master Lease Agreement over equipment leased by the failed enterprise International Telecommunications Limited (Intelco) to the then Musa administration. The story goes back to December 2002 when Godfrey signed the agreement with the then Minister of Budget Management, Investment and Home Affairs, Ralph Fonseca. When the Barrow administration took over, it honored the lease but in 2012 there was trouble over rent. Godfrey formed Glenn D Acquisitions, LLC, and sued the Government in US Courts for over ten million dollars in unpaid rent for the Intelco equipment. Government, following several court sessions, lost and on November 15 this year, GDG and GOB entered into a Conditional Settlement Agreement. The Government has to pay Godfrey 2.5 million US dollars. The Senate passed the bill but not without some protest on the part of some senators.

Mark Lizarraga, Senator for Business the Community: “It is unfortunate again that we are not privy to these commitments made on our behalf, so that we have input into them before they are signed. None of us have exclusive knowledge on anything, including the good attorneys who we’ve seen have contributed significantly to our losses. I’m saying the Belizean people have suffered because of one simple fact, that we have not properly seen, debated these contracts before we get into them, before any government gets into them. We continue to make the call and this is a good example of why we made that call and continue to make that call.”

Michael Peyrefitte, UDP Senator: “Where is all the bluster? Where is all the excitement? Where is the grandstanding Senator Lizarraga? This is the shortest speech you have made in the history of the senate. I am telling you it’s the shortest speech in the history of the senate. Sir, this is a contract that was signed in 2002 by the PUP. So don’t come with that. This is another case. You let me down Mr. President and I would suggest for the six PUPs to not say anything about this contract you know.

Mark Lizarraga, Senator – Business Community: “Mr. President, on a point if order. I mean please, you done have your time in the political realm.”

Lee Mark Chan, President:Excuse me, what is the point of order?”

Mark Lizarraga, Senator – Business Community: “Mr.President that was uncalled for. Casting aspersions. Why would he need to say there are six PUPs in this place. I have a constituency.

Michael Peyrefitte, UDP Senator: “Mr.President I said the six PUP’s. Noy my grandpa used to have a saying ‘da di hog weh get lik bawl you know.’ I didn’t call your name. I didn’t say anything.

Aldo Salazar, UDP Senator: I challenge them, each member of the opposition to decry this and to condemn in the strongest language the same way you did so previously for a road for our people -to condemn what the Minister of Budget Management did back in 2002. It is a travesty, it is deplorable; they went and they waived our sovereign immunity. I read the contract. They waived our sovereign immunity. When we look at the agreement it is so one sided I don’t think it was ever intended to benefit the people of this country. The intent must have been that which we are in the position right now to get a judgment against us in US dollars which we cannot fight.

Osmani Salas, Senator representing NGOs: “It is a shame that we now have to pay as a result of that decision and I understand why we must or else we’ll keep on going into what is not necessarily uncharted waters now where the bill, the debt to the Belizean people keeps growing. So unfortunately I am at pains to say to agree that we must approve this and cut it off and let it end there for this one.”

The settlement will be paid no later than December 14 this year.