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Jun 1, 2015

GOB Clarifies PetroCaribe Salary Scandal

Were Petrocaribe monies used to fund salaries for government employees, and in secret? Well that’s the assertion which rang out on the airwaves this morning. According to documents leaked from the Central Bank – a statement for an account entitled GOB Proceeds Petrocaribe Financing – that’s exactly what happened. A line item on the statement reads, quote – “funds transferred to account #211318 in respect of mid-month salary commitments by order of Ministry of Finance Belmopan,” end quote. The transaction is dated March eighteenth, 2014 and is in the amount of twenty million. Now that’s the first we’ve ever heard of Petrocaribe monies being used to pay salaries, and naturally it raised eyebrows and blood-pressures today. Early this morning News Five spoke to Financial Secretary Joe Waight who offered an explanation of sorts. He said that it didn’t happen the way it looks – it’s all about an operating account.

 

Via phone: Joseph Waight, Financial Secretary

Via Phone: Joseph Waight

“The government maintains what we call an operating account at the central bank, into that account we put th4e proceeds from our main revenue heads, that is income tax, GST, customs and other miscellaneous revenues and from that account we draw all our payments, salaries and wages, operations, debt service, capital expenditure, we are trying to operate a single treasury account, money goes in and money comes out. It is all under one account, it is easy to see, it is easy to audit. But of course we don’t have included in that account, the withdrawals funding our payments of projects that are being refinanced or financed under the Petrocaribe accounts. In other words if we have contracts the payments are made from this account, if we have a social assistance program, payments are made from this account. And from time to time we reimburse ourselves by drawing into the deposits account into which the Petrocaribe funds are placed.”

 

Reporter

“Funds transferred into account 21138 in respect of mid month salary commitments by order of ministry of finance in the sum of twenty million that was done in March 2014. Can you explain that one for us?”

 

Via Phone: Joseph Waight

“Actually that transfer was again a reimbursement from the Petrocaribe account into the operating account which is the main account for the government. We put money into that account in order to meet salary and wages in March. March is the end of our financial year and we pay or salaries and wages early and there is a bit of cash crunch in March yearly. So the idea being that we put money in the account to reimburse ourselves. Remember we had spent it already, giving ourselves back the money so we can make payments going forward including salaries and wages. Everything is withdrawn from that account as I said wages, salaries, service and in fact payments under the Petrocaribe fund. On the surface it looks like Petrocaribe funds are being used to pay mid month salaries but when you operate an account we are reimbursing ourselves for monies that are being already spent which would have been accounted for. It is being sent to the parliament already and we are putting money back into the account so we can lead up to our salaries, wages and our services. Admittedly on the surface it looks like the payments are going to salaries and that is not so. The proof is that we have already gone to parliament for 2013 showing where the money was spent.”

 

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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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1 Response for “GOB Clarifies PetroCaribe Salary Scandal”

  1. Ali Babarrow says:

    We steal because Belizeans let us.
    criminal to the bone.

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