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Nov 28, 2003

Opposition questions keep ministers on toes

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While the passage of legislation through the House today was as exciting as watching the water drop from the building’s leaking roof, members of the opposition used the questions to ministers session to take government to task on issues ranging from the global to the local.

Dean Barrow, Leader of Opposition

“Will the Minister of Finance say what is Government’s total exposure by way of direct loans as well as sovereign guarantee to the International Bank of Miami?”

Ralph Fonseca, Minister of Finance

“As at Friday, November fourteenth, 2003, the public sector exposure by way of direct loans to the International Bank of Miami, I.B.O.M., less our sinking fund deposits to meet a December payment totalled U.S. thirty-three point six million dollars. There are forty-one point eight million dollars in loans outstanding and a sinking fund deposit for eight point two million dollars has already been established against this amount. This means that for I.M.F. calculating purpose, the I.B.O.M. debt as at November fifteenth, 2003 amounts to U.S. thirty-three point six million dollars.”

Patrick Faber, Area Representative, Collet

“Can the Attorney General and Minister of Foreign Affairs please tell this honourable House exactly what portion, in dollars and cents, of the eight hundred thousand dollar contract price for the refurbishment of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs building in Belmopan was disbursed to his brother Norman Smith’s company Imaginative Works, and whether those monies have been returned to the Government of Belize in light of the subsequent cancellation of the said contract?”

Godfrey Smith, Minister of Foreign Affairs

“Madam speaker, the sum of tow hundred thousand dollars was disbursed to Imaginative Works Limited. By the time the contract was cancelled the sum of two hundred and eight thousand, four hundred dollars had been expended by Imaginative Works Limited in the implementation of the contract and therefore all monies disbursed was fully applied in pursuance of the contract.”

Dean Barrow, Leader of Opposition

“Will the Minister of Finance say whether there is any plan to discontinue his Casas de Cambio experiment?”

Ralph Fonseca, Minister of Finance

“Madam speaker, there is no government decision taken to discontinue the Casas de Cambio programme.”

Patrick Faber

“Can the Attorney General tell this honourable house what he has done to comply with the ruling of the Supreme Court handed down by the Chief Justice on October twenty-fourth, 2003 to immediately put in train, through the appropriate channels, measures to secure the return of Mr. George Herbert to Belize.”

Godfrey Smith

“Madam speaker, quite properly that question should have been disallowed under Standing Orders 20(1) G6, which states that questions that refer to cases still pending before the Supreme Court are not allowed. Notwithstanding that, the honourable member may wish to know that an appeal has been filed against the decision of the Supreme Court in that specific case to which his question refers.”

Gabriel Martinez, Area Rep., Corozal South West

“Can the Minister of Transport please say whether any request or recommendation has been made, or approval given for any increase in bus fares, and if so, how much exactly and when will the new increases take effect?”

Vildo Marin, Minister of Transport

“There has been no request made, and no approval has been given for any increase in bus fares.”

Anthony Martinez, Area Rep., Port Loyola

“Can the Minister of Sports say if there are any plans to bush the football field on Boots Crescent behind St. John’s Vianney Primary School, and the football field in Faber’s Road Extension?”

Prime Minister Said Musa

“The Minister of Sports and the Ministry of Sports, the membership knows, is not responsible for these community facilities. The Honourable Member has listed football fields and basketball courts that he should know are community fields and courts that have always been maintained by the area representative in a community effort.

The only member missing from today’s session was Deputy Prime Minister Johnny Briceño, who is attending a conference abroad.

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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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