john2This morning Prime Minister Dean Barrow passed a bill to acquire BTL…again, after the Court of Appeal declared that in August of 2009 the UDP had acted unconstitutionally when it hijacked the private utility company. In a move which came as no surprise to anyone who has become familiar with how the Prime Minister operates, the UDP trotted out the party hacks, drums and placards to bolster its unpopular decision. Our news team was there for the official proceedings which, as youll see next, turned into a UDP circus very quickly. Heres that story.

Carmelita Perez- Reporting

Pastor Praying

“We’ve come confessing, we’ve not live up to your standards, we’ve fallen short in what you have placed in your word for us to follow, we ask for your forgiveness, we ask for forgiveness for this assembly that at sometimes do not behave becoming of persons at the head of the nation, who are to set the example we ask for your forgiveness. God as we come, we thank you for having chosen men and women to lead this nation and we pray today that the business of this house will be done in decently and to the glory of God, we pray particularly for the matter of the re-taken of BTL, we ask that you will help that the proceedings will be well done, there be no infighting, no extraordinary outburst of from either side of the floor, we pray for the Prime Minister, you have said it we should pray for those in authority and therefore we come praying for him, we ask for you to guide him and help him to depend upon you, he cannot by his own self lead this nation. This might be a small nation but it has some major problems and we ask that you will help him to submit himself to you and lead the people to the glory of God.”

Honourable Emil Arguelles- Speaker of the House

“Members of the gallery I would like to remind you that being here is a privilege and I will not allow heckling so I ask to maintain silence and that the members speak as they are entitled to.”

But neither the wrath of God nor the wrath of the Speaker could quiet the galleries which were packed to capacity with vocal UDP hacks who clearly had a job to do and weren’t averse to singing very loudly for their supper.

The Speaker refused to allow the Leader of the Opposition to have his say, and that’s when things came to a head.

Hon. John Briceno – PUP Leader

Mr. Speaker in a point of order we know that the Prime Minister is going to talk about the reacquisition of BTL and we from this house Mr. Speaker think that the Prime Minister owes it to us and to the rest of this nation that before he can properly proceed in the second acquisition of BTL that the Prime Minister has an obligation to us and to the people of this country to explain the cost to the Belizean People and the consequences of the first fail acquisition that has been declared unconstitutional. Mr. Speaker if you could allow me to finish. “Mr. Speaker that is the problem Mr. Speaker, that they do not allow us here on this side of the house to be able to bring this issue even before I start Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, we know that thing has been declared unconstitutional. So, if you could allow us to make the point Mr. Speaker that is the problem that they have, if you are to listen. We need a clarification. Mr. Speaker we cannot just sit here and just allow the thing to continue, this whole behaviour of this government is illegal, is a fraud.”

Outside the National Assembly, PUP standard bearers and supporters waiting for the parliamentarians to emerge. They were undeterred by the heckling from a small crowd of UDP workers who had been bused in for the occasion. While they were very vocal, some of them looked like they didn’t even know where they were, much less why they were there.

And here’s a government vehicle, paid for and maintained by taxpayer dollars, being used to bring out more UDP cronies along with their UDP accessories of flags and placards.

After a few more minutes, the PUP parliamentarians emerged from the House and greeted the supporters waiting patiently outside, before speaking briefly with the media.

Hon. John Briceno – PUP Leader

“We wanted to make a point to the Speaker of the House that I believe that before we even start to talk about a reacquisition of BTL that the Prime Minister has a responsibility to us in the National Assembly and to this nation to explain what is going to happen to the first ruling that has been deemed unconstitutional and as usual the Prime Minister in his arrogant fashion tried to stop us from bringing across the point and as I said we refuse to be a part of this circus man. For the past three years and a half whenever we want to bring up a point of order, whenever we want to bring up a serious issue they always try to shut us down and they use the Speaker to be able to get their way.”

Briceno took the opportunity to clarify the position of the Party on the BTL re-expropriation, stating that the Prime Minister is deliberately misinforming Belizeans…promising them nationalization when what he is actually doing is a horse of a totally different colour.

Hon. John Briceno – PUP Leader

“All parties have been very clear, that whilst we do believe in nationalization, what the Prime Minister has been doing is not nationalization, you cannot take something from one person and give it to another that’s what Dean Barrow has been doing. He took away BTL from his previous owner and has been going around like a cheap pedlar trying to get somebody to buy into BTL and he has failed. What has happen then is that he has made so many promises. I just remember that in 2009 during the debate we pointed out and also Honourable Francis Fonseca was very clear to say that that move was unconstitutional, now two year later we have found out that he has it has indeed been unconstitutional and also we have wasted millions and millions of tax payers’ dollars where only certain people have benefited friends and family cronies and the Prime Minister. What have we benefited from as Belizeans? Has the prices gone down? What happen to VOIP? What happen to the cheaper rates to the better services? That has not happen it has been a fraud from the beginning, it is about the ego and the personal fight of the Prime Minister.”

And while the proceedings inside the House were anything but rational and reasoned, Briceno says that on Wednesday the PUP will be holding a conference to deal with the BTL mess with the importance and sobriety it deserves.

Hon. John Briceno – PUP Leader

“Our position is simply that we are not going to be a part of this circus about this illegal behaviour of the Prime Minister and his government. On Wednesday we want to invite all of you to join us we are going to have a press conference where we can be able to have a reasonable discussion and cross our positions and our concerns. This government got elected on 21 promises where are the jobs, what about the crime, what about education, what about health, what about infrastructure? How can the Prime Minister ask the people of this nation to behave in a lawful manner when he is behaving in a lawless manner, we cannot continue to support this and to continue support the Prime Minister in this illegal behaviour.”

And with that the Parliamentarians departed the scene of the circus, while inside and outside the House of Representatives, matters proceeded in full Barrow tradition…all glitter and no substance.

In the end, Government passed its bill for the re-expropriation of BTL through all three readings in the House of Representatives today.

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