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Jul 1, 2015

Chamber Speaks on PM’s Public Putdown

Arturo ‘Tux’ Vasquez

Still on Petrocaribe…It is well known that there’s been bad blood between Prime Minister Barrow and the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The latest fall out was last Friday.  Following the special sitting of the House of Representatives, the PM, told the media that the private sector organization is, “playing the fool and disregarding the call for public-private dialogue,” in respect of the amended Petrocaribe Loans Act. In a release issued today, the Chamber expresses its disappointment with the PM’s response to a letter dated May fourteenth.  News Five spoke with President, Arturo ‘Tux’ Vasquez, this afternoon and he reiterates the points identified in the release.


Arturo ‘Tux’ Vasquez, President, BCCI

“We heard the prime minister’s comments, I think it was either on Monday or Tuesday’s newscast and while we understand that the government of course has its own opinion, the Chamber obviously has its own opinion and all the other social partners have their own opinion.  We just didn’t see it right for the prime minister to be calling out the business sector and saying that we are playing the fool.  We find that, especially as we mentioned in our statement, most disappointingly it erodes the fabric of public and private dialogue which the Chamber has been working hard to do with the government.  Public-private sector initiative has to continue.  This PPP is something that the government pushes and the Chamber is a part of.  So we don’t believe that such statements should be made at all.  The Chamber is not playing the fool, the Chamber has made a position, it has stated its position and it stands behind that position.  Because it is not the government’s position doesn’t mean that we are playing the fool.  I think I also need to mention that he referred to us not basically inviting ourselves to a meeting.  Let’s be clear first that the first communication that the prime minister had with the Chamber of Commerce was an informal invitation.  The prime minister never called the president of the Chamber of Commerce on this issue, he chose to call the past president Ms. Menzies and Ms. Menzies then called us together and said, “I’m bringing a message to you from the prime minister.”  That is how the dialogue started.  We then decided to formally write the prime minister on May fourteenth, stating our position and formally stating that the BCCI is firmly committed to the principles outlined above and remains interested in respectful and serious dialogue.  Yes, we did not invite ourselves to the meeting, the union obviously perhaps said; can we come and see you?  He said we should start a dialogue, we responded with our position and said we are interested in dialoguing with you.  As far as I am concerned that opens on our end the reason to dialogue.”

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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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