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Jan 31, 2017

Kareem Musa Says “Eye-Opener” Inquiry Reveals Excessive Ministerial Influence

Kareem Musa

While the party awaits its turn to address the single biggest revelation coming out so far from the Senate Special Select Committee, deputy leader Kareem Musa offered some general observations of the Committee and its work in our interview with him this evening. For Musa, it is confirmation that the Government was an active participant and interferer in the affairs of the Department, whether to curry favour with constituents or gain some cash. He also disdained the attempts of the two most-senior officers of the Department at the time – former director Ruth Meighan and deputy director Maria Marin – to distance themselves in some cases from the more egregious actions documented in the Auditor General’s Report, stating that in all cases the ultimate buck stops with the politicians and their chief, Prime Minister Dean Barrow.

 

Kareem Musa, Deputy Leader, P.U.P.

“I believe that the Senate Select Inquiry is an eye-opener, certainly, for all Belizeans to listen to what we have known – we have known this all along that there is corruption in immigration. The Prime Minister has known this all along, but he has not taken any action. Even to this day, the Commissioner of Police has refused to turn over the [Elvin] Penner file to the D.P.P. and who has the Commissioner of Police there – your Prime Minister. So if you look at the ladder and the chain: if the Prime Minister is at the top and he is supporting and endorsing the actions of his Commissioner of Police, then by extension he is supporting Elvin Penner getting away with crimes. So the Prime Minister has a long track record – it’s right there for all to see that he is not going to take any action. He said, “For God’s sake, stop it!” – you think they stopped? They didn’t stop; the Auditor General’s report showed that even after he made that speech they continued, and the Prime Minister and this U.D.P. government, all that they tried to do is cover it up, cover it up. And so this Senate Select Inquiry is very important, and it’s an eye opener because then the public gets to see the inner workings and the fact that so many mechanisms that were breached so that politicians could have their way and could grant nationality and get their people on the voters’ list. It was all for politics and in many instances, all for money as well. There were no checks and balances – you are perfectly right – and it’s always the case that they are going to try to throw junior officers and public officers under the bus, always the case. But you and I know and the rest of Belize knows that at the end of the day, the ones at the top are the ones pulling the strings. The reason why the system was allowed to be breached so many times and the reason why there are no checks and balances in that system is because of the politicians, who are up in that Ministry, who Miss Meighan called their names, those are the individuals who encouraged this type of behaviour and that’s why it has continued and hopefully now, with this Senate Select Inquiry they are going to put a stop to it. And I am looking forward to – I’ll be honest with you, I’m not very hopeful, because the Government still controls the majority in terms of any recommendations coming out of there – but I am hopeful that at the very least we will see some terminations and some Ministers being stripped. I am hoping for that.”

 

The Select Committee continues on Wednesday with appearance from key officers of the Department, some of whose names are tied to the various alleged misdeeds reported by the Auditor General and her staff. We will have the results in Wednesday’s newscast.

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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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