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Nov 18, 2014

House Passes Petrocaribe Loan Motion after Marathon Debate

As we said earlier, the Special House meeting, called on the eve of Garifuna Settlement Day, centred around the Petrocaribe monies. The opposition is taking the government to court on it, but today the debate raged inside and outside the House. The ruckus outside could have been heard inside where the debate raged. Predictably, all government members supported G.O.B.’s move, and all Opposition members opposed. Today’s sitting lasted the better part of seven hours, and Mike Rudon has the highlights.

Mike Rudon, Reporting

Today’s sitting of the House of Representatives got underway almost an hour late…delayed by the crowd amassed outside in a show of support for government. In consideration of that crowd, the Speaker had a special message to start.


Michael Peyrefitte, Speaker, House of Representative
“I beg of you a small indulgence. I think it would be remiss of me not to make some mention of what is happening here today. Today represents the best of democracy and in the best of democracy; we have what can be potentially the worst of democracy. I just want to say and make very clear from the start that inside this national assembly is not a political rally.”


But it was political, and Prime Minister Dean Barrow proved that with his opening words.


Dean Barrow

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
“We pioneered the food pantry support outreach to our people; the cash transfer to struggling families, homeowner relief by the write-off of millions and millions of dollars in the Ministry of Housing, DFC and the S.S.B. with respect to mortgages; we came up with the high school subsidies, with the Apprenticeship and Second Chance Programs. We provided ample rural access to credit and we brought in the training and financing opportunities for would be entrepreneurs and small businesses. What Petrocaribe has done now though is to enable us to take our social justice trailblazing, our economic protection and empowerment of the poor and the middle-class to new levels. It has allows us to realize now giant achievements for the people of Belize that hitherto, we can only dream of.”


And of course, Barrow defended the spending of the Petrocaribe monies, while hammering the past administration.


Prime Minister Dean Barrow
“But not before their administration collected…well I hear different figures. I hear different figures…somewhere between thirty and fifty million. So two things arise. Why was not the Petrocaribe arrangement—their take of which exceeded by three times the trigger-amount of ten million dollars under the Finance and Audit Act—why did they not ever bring Petrocaribe to Parliament?”


P.U.P. Leader, Francis Fonseca, had his own take on the issue which has been dominating the news and the airwaves.


Francis Fonseca

Francis Fonseca, Area Rep., Freetown
“As I listen to honourable prime minister, the member for Queen Square, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the very famous old Creole proverb…”Fowl caca white and think ih lay egg”…Self-absorbed Mister Speaker, full of himself. Instead of being there in the south celebrating with our brothers, of course we are required to be here for the prime minister’s multimillion dollars circus show; multimillion dollar circus show. You put on the lights, you put on the music and he begins to sing and dance. And you have heard him singing and dancing already today and you will hear him sing and dance all day today to his favourite tune, to his favourite song, “No blame me, blame the P.U.P.” That’s his favourite song…sing and dance. Well Mister Speaker, there is nothing more pathetic and desperate than a prime minister and his government seven years in power, seven years in power, and they can’t take responsibility for their own government.”


And then Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega weighed in.


Gaspar Vega

Gaspar Vega, Area Rep., Orange Walk North
“The purpose, why this government is investing so much in education is because we are convinced that if we have an educated populace there is only one way this country will go and that is forward because we will have independent minds. We will have those young people with the capacity to think for themselves and not to allow some politician who wants to lead try to cover the sun with one finger.”


And then former Prime Minister Said Musa had his say.


Said Musa, Area Rep., Fort George

Said Musa

“The record is there, it is all there, that less than twenty million gallons of fuel was shipped to Belize during the P.U.P. period, 2005-2008 and all the proceeds, all the so call finance portion that the government was able to keep back instead of paying upfront and would be allowed to pay it over a twenty, twenty-five years. Every single cent, as the prime minister knows—because I am sure he checked it with Mister Joe Waight, the financial secretary that he was praising today—was deposited in the Central Bank of Belize and they know that.”


And from there the air was cleared, so to speak, and the other members of the House were free to voice their opinions on what has become the most contentious topic of this time. Mike Rudon for News Five.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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