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The Petrocaribe loan motion debate was raging in the House of Representatives on Tuesday. By now, it has been established that the move has been met with a resounding rejection by the members of the Opposition People’s United Party. And while the Prime Minister elaborated flamboyantly on the programs rolled out through the Petrocaribe funds, there was also some blame game played by the UDP ministers as it concerns the subject at hand, to which members of the Opposition responded rather emphatically.

Screen_Shot_2014-11-20_at_7.56.07_PMHonorable Dean Barrow – Prime Minister of Belize

“They did not want to partner with Esso because they wanted to give the deal to their crony, they couldn’t partner with Esso because Esso would not play their corrupt hustling game so in order to privilege their crony and arrange no doubt for party ad ministerial kickbacks they shafted the Belizean people, we though do everything above and we care only about getting the results for the country.”

Honorable Said Musa – Area Representative

“We are not against the Petro Caribe, we are against the way you are spending the money without legal authority and the waste and corruption that has been taking place.  In 2011 Esso was bought out, the US company bought out by a company called Trafigura, another major oil company, and this Trafigura had a subsidiary called Puma Energy as one of its subsidiaries and unlike Exxon, the big US multinational Puma is quite happy to receive all the shipments from Venezuela, so it is no thanks to you, you UDP that you are all getting the shipment from Venezuela it is because of Puma who agreed to accept it all.”

Since September 2012 to march 2014 over one million 428 thousand of refined fuel products have been shipped to Belize under the agreement put in place by the Barrow Administration with Esso. This sums up to a total value of 260 million Belize dollars and by now, said Free Town Area Representative, Said Musa has undoubtedly grown by millions more. Then came that longstanding argument by the PM and his government that the money collected by the PUP when in office is yet to be accounted for. Again, former Prime Minister Said Musa addresses this.

Honorable Dean Barrow – Prime Minister of Belize

“What did they do with the 30 million dollars they collected, of course 30 million is not like what we collected but it still could have built schools, a new hospital and I could have built the civic center.”

Honorable Said Musa – Area Representative

“The record is there is all there that less than 20 million gallons of fuel was shipped to Belize during the PUP period 2005 to 2008 and all the proceeds, all the proceeds the so called the finance portion that the government was able to keep back instead of paying up front and would be allowed to pay it over 20/25 years, every single cent as the Prime Minister knows because I am sure he checked it with Mr. Joe Waight, the financial secretary that he was praising today would have told him was deposited in the Central Bank of Belize and they know that so whether indeed it was no more than thirty odd million dollars, Minister of Collect, education to talk about 30 to 50 is another attempt to deceive the people, is thirty odd million dollars ok and every single cent was deposited in the Central Bank and you all an check that, you are the government man, you all inherited it when you took over in 2008 and not a cent was spent it was put there in the reserves of the Central Bank of Belize, you can check that because you all were able to spend it afterwards.”

And then there’s the question as to why the former government did not make any investments with the money collected during their term. The following is the Opposition’s response.

Honorable Dean Barrow – Prime Minister of Belize

“For the fiscal 2007/2008 the finance portion of the Petro Caribe proceeds amounted to US$10.36 million, the trigger under the finance and audit act is BZ$10 million why you never bring Petro Caribe to the national assembly if you so concern about transparency.”

Honorable Said Musa – Area Representative

“The entire Petro Caribe program was brought to a screeching halt by the UDP when they rolled into office with their high horse filled with arrogance and malice towards the opposition of today that is right they killed the whole Petro Caribe arrangements, in fact they went further, Mr. Speaker and I am sorry I have to bring this up because I am involved, they even accused me of stealing 20 million dollars, remember that Mr. Farber, accused me of diverting 20 million dollars which President Chavez lend to us, President Chavez gave to us, it was a grant yes you all had been able to get any grants the Belizean people have to pay back everything that you all got, this 20 million dollars grant yes was utilized a was intended to be to pay off a debt of the Universal hospital and the government and people of Belize would have received a substantial stake in the ownership of that hospital today, that is right, in fact Mr. Speaker the record will show that, yes I was accused, charged and the matter ended up in the Supreme Court and what happened I was totally vindicated by this malicious politically motivated charged brought by the Prime Minister because he lead it, he lead the whole charge, that is right, so I have to stand today to tell you all you are a bunch of hypocrites when it comes to Petro Caribe thing, deceiving hypocrites.”

Honorable Francis Fonseca – Leader of the Opposition for People United Party

“Mr. Speaker as I listen to the Honorable Prime Minister the member for Queen Square, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the very famous, old creole proverb, fowl kaka white and think he laid egg self-absorbed Mr. Speaker full of himself. He put on the music and he begins to sing and dance and you have heard him singing and dancing here today and you will hear him sing and dance all day today to his favorite tune, to his favorite song; no blame me blame the PUP, that is his favorite song, sign and dance. Mr. Speaker let me deal first with this very feeble attempt to suggest that because we are opposing this Petro Caribe loan motion that somehow we oppose to the Petro Caribe loan program, well nothing could be further from the truth that is absolute nonsense it is the People’s United Party that was the architect of this program, we were the ones Mr. Speaker it was under the PUP, the Belize’s participation in this program was made possible by the People’s United Party, it was the PUP government back in 2005 that went to Jamaica to sign on to the Petro Caribe energy cooperation agreement with other CARICOM nations and it was in 2006 that the joint venture agreement, the initial joint venture agreement between Belize and Venezuela was signed forming the Alba Petro Caribe Belize Ltd. So the People’s United Party, Mr. Speaker understand and appreciates the value and the importance of the program, ironically Mr. Speaker the commandant must be rolling in his grave when he heard the Prime Minister speaking this morning, it was he as leader of the opposition who tried to undermine the program, undermined it and got up right up here in the National Assembly and attacked the Venezuelan government and called Hugo Chavez a pseudo nationalist, that was you sir, that was you, so don’t come here today beating your chest like you are some nationalist, you are a hypocrite. So Mr. Speaker we cannot and will not come to this honorable house to support a motion proposed by the Prime Minister and a UDP government that have abused, misused and corrupted that very good initiative that is what they have done and that is why we cannot support the loan motion because you have abuse it.”

The PUP has filed a lawsuit against the government saying the loan motion is illegal and unconstitutional. That lawsuit was filed by PUP Deputy Leader Julius Espat who also doubles as the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee.

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