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What will the Barrow Administration do about the $89 million which the Caribbean Court of Justice has ruled them to be liable towards the Belize Bank, for a $35 million loan guarantee payment they refused to honour upon taking office in 2008? After holding his silence for almost an entire week, today Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Hon. Dean Barrow, called a press conference to speak on the ruling and announce what direction the Government will take. As you might have expected, the PM put on his lawyer cloak and began to set the stage as to why he will leave it up to the House of Representatives to decide.


Screen_Shot_2017-11-29_at_8.04.28_PMRt. Honourable Dean Barrow – Prime Minister of Belize

“The short question is what happens now, I have kept personal silence since last Wednesday although GOB did issue a Press Release and although ministers have been vocal in expressing their outrage, I didn’t want to speak until I had carefully considered all the ramifications, done my own research, sought legal advice, you has himself for a lawyer has a fool for a client and so I sought legal from two eminent quarters and I needed as well to thoroughly discuss the matter with my Cabinet, the judgement was Wednesday people had to starting speaking up Thursday I had to leave the country on Friday for a private engagement and I was determined not to speak until I had allow this matter to marinate and until I had a chance.  The Bank had specifically asked the CCJ to compel the minister of finance to pay to the Bank the full amount of the Award, the court refuse to do that and it refused in my view principally for the reason that even the CCJ is not bigger than our Constitution, the CCJ is subject to the Constitution of this country and that Constitution as the CCJ recognize and accepted is clear that no money can be taken out of our Consolidated Revenue Fund of this country for any purpose including to satisfy a judgment unless that money has first been appropriated by parliament for this specific purpose so the minister of finance the court clearly conceded can only pay if parliament approves and authorizes that payment.”

With that, the Prime Minister gave basically NO CLEAR DIRECTION, except for saying that the constitution requires him to leave it up to Parliament. The PM pointed out that he will do what the majority in the House tells him, and if the majority decides not to pay, according to him, Belize can rely on precedence set by other Commonwealth countries as proper legal standing.

Rt. Honourable Dean Barrow – Prime Minister of Belize

“It is the essence of the country’s sovereignty and parliament’s authority that a decision can be made not to approve the law not to pay the debt indeed that is a principle inherent in the very constitution which prohibits the payment of any money for a judgment or otherwise from the Consolidated Revenue fund. I see for example in New Zealand the position was that as here somebody gets a judgment against the state they proceed under the Crowns’ Proceedings Act to get the same certificate from the appropriate officer and they serve it on the executive, the law there stated quite clearly that that alone is not sufficient to oblige payment that that additional step of a vote by parliament to appropriate the money must take place and that if such a vote doesn’t happen the litigant, the judgement creditor, the successful applicant is left without any recourse , now the New Zealanders went and change their version of the Crown Proceeding Act some time ago.”

So that sets the stage for what Belizeans can expect to be another episode of political thug of war between parliamentarians whenever the House meets. Late this evening the Opposition leader addressed the media on today’s conference, and we’ll show you that in a bit. One criticism already belted out at the Prime Minister is that it is due to his refusal to settle the matter that the $35 million has ballooned to $89 million. He responded today.

Rt. Honourable Dean Barrow – Prime Minister of Belize

“How can you pay on the basis of something that’s declared not just by the Belizean people but by the courts of this country to have been illegal, if I had paid in the face of the rulings of the Supreme court and from the court of appeal, what Russel Vellos said about traitors would have applied to me and I would have expected that I would have been hang from some gibbet erected at the swing bridge.”

The PM claimed that while he wasn’t willing to be hung at the swing bridge, he stands prepared to go to jail, if the Bank successfully pursues enforcement orders against him as the Minister of Finance.

Rt. Honourable Dean Barrow – Prime Minister of Belize

“It must not be doubted that a court can in fact fashion a particular new remedy dealing with breach of constitutional rights, suggestion being that if the minister of finance is ordered to pay and he doesn’t pay the court can visit the sanction of imprisonment on the minister of Finance, I don’t think that can happen in this case, first of all this is not a constitutional matter, it’s not in conceivable that the Bank if it doesn’t get paid can say while this arose out of contractual dispute and an Arbitration Award the fact of none payment constitutes some depravation of property and therefor act as a platform for the Bank to lodge a constitutional claim in the Supreme Court and that perhaps open the door to the situation where the question of a coercive order to be made against me might arise except that our Constitution is perhaps a little bit different from the Grenada Constitution, our constitution as in my view the CCJ conceded is saying that you can’t pay money out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the satisfaction, lets particularize it, for this judgement unless Parliament votes it, if Parliament doesn’t voted how can a court say to the minister of Finance you must still find a way to pay, the court would then be going against the Constitution so in my view there is not much chance of that happening but if it to happen well back and all am going to jail, once parliament no vote.”

A meeting of the House of Representatives was scheduled for Friday December 1st but was called off. Reports were that it was postponed to December 8th, but according to the PM the House will not reconvene until after the 21 days required by the CCJ for the Bank to request that the Registrar issue a certificate in the amount that is due on the award.

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