Last week we told you about a claim that was filed by the People’s United Party on a motion for an Order of Mandamus to force the Government of Belize to reveal how exactly it is spending of the Petro Caribe funds. Well today the PUP held a press briefing to explain the legal recourse they have taken against the Government. Party Leader Francis Fonseca says that while they value and appreciate the benefits to the nation and economy, they are obligated to ask questions and get answers.
Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the Opposition
"The loan motion seeks to ratify and confirm what in our view is illegal borrowing and spending by this UDP government since September 2012. The manner in which the borrowing and spending has been conducted is contrary to the intent of the act and has defeated and frustrated the intent of the act which is to provide for better provisions regulating public revenue and expenditure. When the line between the Petrocaribe fund and the UDP coffers is blurred, we in the PUP have a responsibility to question and challenge the use of those funds."
Hon. Julius Espat - Chairman, Public Accounts Committee
"The Prime Minister of Belize in 2008 convinced the Belizean people, he convinced the unions, he convinced the Chamber of Commerce, he convinced the churches that he would do things differently; that he would be accountable; that he would show transparency and he was for good governance. Low and behold in 2012 when this loan started to develop he went against every single that he promised."
Andrew Marshalleck, SC - Attorney For Opposition Party
"What the loan motion that has been tabled in the House has revealed is that the executive branch of government has been engaged in borrowing millions of dollars and also in spending millions of dollars without the authorization of the National Assembly. At core that is the executive usurping functions of the legislature."
Hon. Julius Espat
"Governments become complacent because of this money. They believe that that is all they have to depend on. This money will not continue forever. We do not see that the Prime Minister and this government is spending enough time to be able to be creative enough to drive this economy when this money dries up and that is something the Belizean people have to realize too."
Hon. Francis Fonseca
"He has betrayed the trust and confidence of the Belizean people."
As we reported, in 2012 the Government of Belize set up a private company called Alba Petroleum Caribe Belize Energy Limited (APBEL) to make the purchases from Venezuela and to administer the accumulated funds known as the Petro Caribe Fund. Under an agreement with the Government of Venezuela, Belize is able to buy all of its fuel from Venezuela, making a part-payment when the fuel is delivered in Belize. The other portion of the payment, called the “financed portion” can be set aside for development purposes, but will have to be made further down the road. Prime Minister Dean Barrow has described the PUP action as “playing politics” and has vowed to confront them in court. Meanwhile, Party Leader Fonseca announced that the claim is not an ‘attack on development’ but a legal claim on behalf of the Belizean people to stop the abuse of public spending.
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