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Jan 27, 2017

Opposition Complains About Notice and Prolonging B.T.L. War

John Briceño

On the second reading of the new bill, a debate was held in which the Opposition raised its concerns of punitive action against Caribbean Investment Holdings and B.S.D.L. and the extremely short notice on which the bill was brought to the House, something for which the Prime Minister apologized in length several times. He noted that in other circumstances, he would have consulted Leader of the Opposition John Briceño, but he wanted to avoid the beans possibly being spilled to Senior Counsel Eamon Courtenay, who has represented various concerns of Lord Michael Ashcroft and whom Briceño counts as a major adviser, in addition to being his chief second in the Senate. While ultimately supporting the bill, both Briceño and attorney Kareem Musa of Caribbean Shores opined that this matter could have been settled a long time ago.

 

John Briceño, Leader of the Opposition

“I want to make it very clear to everybody: we on this side of the House, we will always stand up for Belize. But at the same time, we have an obligation to the people we represent in our constituencies, and the people of this country, to get into a meaningful debate whenever these Bills are presented to us, and I said earlier that we really regret that we were not given the opportunity to be able to study properly, and to consult as a group and with the people; as he rightly pointed out, I am no attorney, to see if we’re dotting all the I’s and crossing all the T’s, or there’s something that’s missing or what we can do to make it even better if that’s what we’re trying to, or attempting to achieve.”

 

Kareem Musa

Kareem Musa, Area Rep., Caribbean Shores

“What we have to understand, Madam Speaker, because I listened to the Prime Minister very carefully this morning, he raised the issue of litigation risk and he said all attorneys in here should know about litigation risk. I fully support the Prime Minister in that regard, but where was that concern eight years ago? This matter, when they acquired B.T.L., should have been settled eight long years ago. But instead, Madam Speaker, it was dragged on through the courts, all the way to the C.C.J., resulting in twenty-seven million dollars in litigation fees alone, Madam Speaker, and today what we have is another knee-jerk reaction by this Government, and one that is disgraceful, because they are doing it by ambush. They knew about this from Tuesday of this week, Madam Speaker, and they presented the Bill to us this morning, at this very late hour, and asking us, red-blooded Belizeans – and to correct you, Mister Prime Minister, I am a red, white and blue-blooded Belizean, not just red-blooded (Applause) – but expecting us to actually support a Bill that is a knee-jerk reaction to the Prime Minister declaring war on Mister Ashcroft.”

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