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Mar 13, 2017

Back to C.C.J. on B.T.L?

As part of his Budget address, Prime Minister Dean Barrow gave an update on the continued wrangles with the former owners of Belize Telemedia Limited and the owners of the various arbitral awards. He hinted that Government may again go to the Caribbean Court of Justice concerning the second portion of the settlement award for B.T.L. and reiterated Government’s insistence that it will not pay the other arbitral awards due.

 

Dean Barrow

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“The second instalment, expressed in BZ dollars, amounts to approximately one hundred and eighty million Belize dollars. Under the Settlement Agreement mentioned above, the G.O.B. is of the view that almost the entire second amount is payable in Belize Dollars. Not surprisingly, the Ashcroft Alliance is of a different view. It wishes both to perpetrate a further predatory raid on our foreign exchange, and short-shift the amount properly earmarked for the funding of charitable local projects. Thus, in resisting this, G.O.B. will once again have recourse to the C.C.J. Madam Speaker; also of importance is how these funds are treated in this budget. In accordance with the rules and guidelines of the IMF’s Government Finance Statistics Manuals, such transactions are treated as capital items reported Below-the-Line. Regardless, they have to be financed and in the case of these compensation payments, Government financed, and is financing, the payments by domestic borrowing through the issue of Treasury Bills and Notes. There are four other Arbitration Awards against the Government of Belize. These are the Belize Social Development Ltd Award for twenty-two point five million U.S. dollars; BCB Holdings Award for twenty-seven point four million U.S. dollars; NEWCO Ltd Award for four point four million U.S. dollars and finally the Belize Bank Ltd Award for thirty-five point two million (U.S. dollars), all arising out of deals made by the last administration. The U.S. Supreme Court recently declined to hear Government of Belize petitions with respect to the first three cases, therefore leaving the Awards to stand. The fourth Award is still before the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal. The position of the Government is that while there may be attempts to enforce these awards abroad, any such attempts would be futile as G.O.B. has no assets which can be the subject of any form of attachment. Furthermore, NEWCO apart, all these awards are rooted in the illegal and corrupt bargains made by the PUP Administration with the Alliance. Our courts have pronounced them unenforceable in this country and we therefore, Madam Speaker, see no need to make any provisions in this Budget for the settlement of what is tainted… (Applause) Cannot settle what is tainted, repugnant and unconstitutional.”

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