Today, Belize suffered yet another blow as a result of the nationalization of Belize Telemedia Limited by the current UDP Government. The CCJ has ordered the Government to pay US$78 million on or before 10 November 2017 to the former shareholders of Telemedia.
This order by the CCJ is a direct result of the poorly drafted Settlement Agreement negotiated and signed by the Prime Minister in September 2015, by which the Government gave a virtual blank check to the former shareholders of Telemedia. This Settlement Agreement was signed two months before the general elections of November 2015.
The People’s United Party again strongly condemns the UDP Government for signing a one-sided Settlement Agreement that has had a serious impact on Belize. The nationalization of Telemedia has turned out to be an extremely expensive blunder by the Government and a get rich scheme for UDP families and cronies.
The Prime Minister promised that he had negotiated a deal that would leave tens of millions for charitable purposes. Today we find out that this is not true and only a quarter of a million dollars will be available in the Hayward Charitable Belize Trust for charitable purposes and even so at all times subject to the objects and consent of the Trust not the Government of Belize. This is an absolute disaster for Belize and it is now clear
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that the Prime Minister misled Belizeans about the supposed advantages of this deal. Again, we remind Belizeans that the Prime Minister made this promise in the months just before the 2015 elections. An election gimmick.
The CCJ’s order today that US$78mn has to be paid by the Government in 10 days is serious. This is approximately one-quarter of the current reserves. The need to pay is just before Christmas when demands on foreign reserves are at the highest. The PUP calls on the Government to ensure that however it solves this problem it ensures that the Belizean dollar is not threatened. Additionally, we insist that the Government must ensure that the Belizean business community should have access to foreign reserves in the ordinary course notwithstanding this Court Order.
Finally, the PUP assures the Belizean people that it will take legal advice in order to find out who should be held responsible for this scandalous disaster that has caused the Belizean people to have to pay hundreds of millions of dollars for Telemedia. There has been clear misfeasance in public office and we will insist on accountability.
In an unprecedented move the People’s United Party has filed a Motion in the Senate seeking permission of the Senate to debate an amendment to the Maritime Areas Act. The Motion will be debated at the next sitting of the Senate.
The proposed amendment is designed to remove those sections of the Maritime Areas Act that would have enabled a negotiated settlement of the claim by Guatemala to Belizean territory. If approved, the amendment would mean that Belize will claim all its territorial seas and exclusive economic zone as provided for under international law.
Commenting on this development, PUP Leader Hon John Briceno said: “The Party has been urging to Government to make this move; they continue to fail to do their duty to Belize. We have decided that it is time to be proactive and to protect Belize as the Government has chosen not to do so.”
Senator Courtenay said that the PUP Senators are lobbying all non-Government Senators to support the Motion and the Bill.
The Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Hon. Julius Espat and Committee Member the Hon. Kareem Musa condemn in no uncertain terms the non-appearance of the four UDP Ministers on the Committee at the session today, at which the Auditor-General would have been questioned about the many irregularities detailed in her 2012-2013 Report. It is no less than a clear disrespect of the proceedings, disregard for any oversight and it must be seen as an attempt to derail the session. It is also a grave disservice to the Belizean people because the irregularities which are to be discussed and debated by the P.A.C. involve abuses of the PEOPLE’S money by this current administration.
The Chairman condemns the duplicity of Prime Minister Dean Barrow, who speaks out of two sides of his mouth. When questioned recently, the PM stated, “The Public Accounts Committee, the Chairman has already signaled, will be meeting shortly and will go through the report in a way that will see the public being able to follow along and to be educated as to what is exactly on the report and as to any possible explanations there might be. That is how it should be and that’s how it is.”
But after saying that, the decision was made by the four UDP Ministers on the Committee that the public would be locked out of the P.A.C. meetings. And now, the four UDP Ministers do not attend the meeting. Is the Prime Minister seeking to hide the corruption of his Ministers from the light of day? If so, it is an act of disrespect at the highest level of government, because the financial irregularities to be discussed involve the people’s money. If the Prime Minister has sanctioned the non-appearance of his four Ministers at the PAC meeting today, as he condones the actions of his UDP Ministers wherever corruption rears its ugly head, then he himself must be accused of corruption.
The Chairman reminds the Prime Minister and the members of his Cabinet that they serve at the whim of the Belizean people, and that they are all – even those who think they are above the law – answerable to the Belizean people yesterday, today and tomorrow.
The National Executive of the People’s United Party (PUP) convened today, October 12, 2017 to set the following deadlines for the upcoming National Convention as stipulated in Article 26(10) of the Party’s Constitution:
- All members of the National Executive except the Secretary General, Chairpersons of the Regional Caucuses, Presidents of the Order of Distinguished Service (ODS), United Women’s Group (UWG), Belize Youth Movement (BYM) and the Marshall’s Community Service Corps (MCSC) shall be elected at the National Convention to be held on Sunday, November 26, 2017 in Belize City.
- Nominations for such officers shall be submitted in writing to the Party Chairman no later than 4:00 p.m. on Friday, October 27, 2017 and be accompanied by the written consent of the nominee.
- Delegate lists from Constituency Committee Chairpersons as well as the ODS, UWG, BYM and MCSC shall be submitted to the Party Chairman no later than 4:00 p.m. on Friday, October 27, 2017.
The PUP looks forward to the upcoming National Convention. As a Party, we remain fully committed to our democratic principles.
The People’s United Party condemns the awarding of a grossly bloated contract for the ‘reconstruction’ of one mile of Faber’s Road to Imer Hernandez, nephew of disgraced former Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega. There is no rational justification for this portion of road costing $8M when the conventional rule of thumb for routine reconstruction of roadways is $1M per mile. With Municipal Elections just months away, it is clear that this is nothing but an attempt to enrich select UDP Ministers and cronies and pad election coffers.
We note that in 2016, Cisco Construction was awarded a contract for major works on 3.5 miles of the Phillip Goldson Highway, including the widening of the entire stretch by 10 feet, placement of lights and the construction of a heavy duty retaining wall to stop erosion of the riverbank. That contract worked out to less than $4M a mile. It is beyond comprehension that routine works on 1-mile of Faber’s Road would be almost double that.
It is not the first time that Minister of Works Rene Montero has been scrutinized for bloated contracts. Almost $7M was recently awarded for the paving of a short stretch of road in Santa Elena, from the Loma Luz Boulevard to the Hawkesworth Bridge. In addition, Montero was also involved in the awarding of the contract to an under-qualified construction company owned by his brother for the completion of the Twin Towns municipal building and allegedly a multi-million-dollar contract for the completion of the Marshalleck Stadium in Benque Viejo Del Carmen.
The PUP calls on all social partners and other entities with a stake in the development of the country and who are fighting corruption to stand against the awarding of these bloated contracts. This is nothing more than business as usual in the UDP where select persons gorge at the public trough while the majority of normal Belizeans remain poor. We call on the Prime Minister to immediately rein in his Minister of Works who has seen his fortunes improve beyond all proportion while in office.
It is time to change how things are done! We call on all Belizeans to take a stand against the corruption which has affected every facet of our development.
Belize City, October 10th 2017– The BYM firmly believes in fostering the new generation in any and all leadership roles. We believe our youth are the agents for change and the implementation of a second Peaceful Constructive Belizean Revolution. In the words of Hillary Clinton, “Young people are at the heart of today’s great strategic opportunities and challenges, from rebuilding the global economy to combating violent extremism to building sustainable democracies.”
Therefore, it is with pleasure that we embrace the young and energetic Ms. Kylah Ciego of Dangriga Town, and wish her all the best as the new female CARICOM Youth Ambassador. Ms. Ciego has proven herself as a young leader and professional serving her community to the best of her capacity.
In her own words, “I am passionate about supporting youth development and believe that in this era of globalization and connectedness we must be cognizant of the impact of our actions on others as we shape the type of world for future generations.”
The BYM commits to supporting you as you give the youth of Belize a voice on the regional and international stage.