At the start of the this morning House meeting, Prime Minister of Belize was quick to address the financial issue the Orange Walk Town Council was facing. We regret to inform you that we didn’t manage to capture the Prime Minsiter’s comments due to our crew were covering the protest that was occurring right outside, but we’ll have more on the protest later in our newscast.
In a nut shell, Prime Minister Barrow lashed out at the OW Council for not doing their due diligence in addressing and dealing with the issue at the Belize Bank. Barrow went as far as to question Mayor Bernard’s spending of Public Funds alluding to the Mayor’s vehicle and claimed that the Council hired PUP supporters at exuberant salaries. Barrow went as far as to challenge Mayor Bernard to produce the financial reports to him and then, but only then, would he entertain assisting the Orange Walk Town Council with any financial assistance.
Well, when the Prime Minsiter said his piece in the House, former Leader of the Opposition and Orange Walk Central Area Representative John Briceño was first to rise and quickly dispel Barrow’s notions.
Hon. John Briceño – OW Central Area Rep
“It is important Mr. Speaker that, we set the record straight and I will not grand stand as how the Prime Minister did this morning and twist the truth of what really happened and give the impression as if there is some sort of mismanagement on behave of the Orange Walk Town Council. That is far from the truth because the OWTC has all their financial statements on the web every month they send their statements to Central Government so that they could know exactly how the monies of the people in Orange Walk Town is being spent. But the facts are Mr. Speaker is that the overdraft that the Town Council is facing at this moment was an overdraft that was not approved by the Prime Minister he was right in saying that. This overdraft was approved back in 2006 under the PUP Central Government so that already makes the point that when the Prime Minster says that when we were in power we gave no assistance to the UDP’s councils he is wrong because when they came and asked the Prime Minister who was the Minister of Finance at that time that they needed an overdraft the approve was given to them. And since then every single year the Ministry of Finance have been giving the approval including this Government to continue with the overdraft. The Prime Minister also mentioned that this council was not serving the overdraft again that is not necessarily so for the past 18 months every month the town council had been paying over two thousand dollars towards this overdraft that they inherited and did not spend a cent of the money but they decided that the responsible thing was to pay the $2,000 until they could have found a solution to the problem. As to the issue of the high salaries and the bloated contracts Mr. Speaker this is something not true the facts are there and I challenge the Prime Minister that if he has the proof to come out and show it. As to the firing of people the fact is that the UDP Town Council in February just before the elections, on his won without having a meeting with the town council, without passing a resolution decided to give all the UDP’s cronies that they had hired just before the elections a contract. The Mayor and the PUP Town Council when they released them they were given all their benefits so they were terminated under the law. To date there are still many UDP supporters working for the council and that is fine we are all Belizeans and we all deserve to work. As we speak right now there are supporters of the Deputy Prime Minister who are working at the council. As to the issue of raising property taxes and trade licenses again this is something that was inherited by the present town council. It was the previous UDP council that reviewed the roles, reviewed the properties and approved these increases. So when this present town council took office this is what they met and continued with its implementation. Now of course there were a few UDP licenses that were ridiculously low and they naturally had to be reviewed for them to pay what is rightly due. As to the Mayor’s vehicle, Mr. Speaker for the record, one it is a used vehicle, secondly the town council did not pay for that vehicle, the Mayor has a loan at the Credit Union which he took about to buy his vehicle and he is paying for that loan with his salary. Now to the fireworks I think even our friends in Belize City were a bit envious about the fireworks display that was shown in Orange Walk Town on the 21st. It was probably the best we had across the country. But I must say that not a single penny of the people’s money was used to pay for these fireworks, the town council paid with donations.”
After Briceño concluded his presentation, Prime Minister Barrow rose once again. But, in what can only be deemed change of heart, Barrow pledged to Orange Walk Town that the Ministry of Works will commence repairs on the Belize/Corozal Road; specifically, the entrance of Orange Walk Town, by Landy’s and Sons, and the intersection of Cinderella and Belize/Corozal Road.
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