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Mar 23, 2017

How Much are Consultants Being Paid for Superbond?

John Briceño

As expected, the matter of the Superbond came up during the first day of the Budget Debate. While repeating his claim that the revised package remains unsustainable without a clear plan, Leader of the Opposition John Briceño referred to the attendant fees for negotiation of the billion dollar package as costing up to twenty million Belize dollars and went on to claim that the majority of the fees were for “local consultants.” That provoked a rare intervention by the Prime Minister after Briceño wrapped up his speech. P.M. Barrow pointed out that the figures in the estimates were not delineated and that Briceño could not prove his claim.

 

John Briceño, Leader of the Opposition

“The Prime Minister also told the media that the bond restructuring fees – now listen – to the bondholders’ local and foreign advisers added up to around twelve million dollars. We have now come to learn from the budget estimates itself, in Cap Two expenditures for the Ministry of Finance, that the bond restructuring fees will amount to twenty million dollars; eight million more than he led us to believe.  Now, listen: the bondholders, for [signing] on, di get wah lee bonus of two point six million dollars. An additional five point six million was paid to their negotiators – you know, the U.S. attorneys and their U.S. accountants and whatever, so they get five point six million dollars. Now listen to this; member from Cayo South, check this out: fu we Belizean negotiators, fu we Belizean negotiators weh suppose to di try help we; you know weh dehn di collect? Eleven point eight million dollars! Eleven point eight million dollars; these are your numbers, Prime Minister.  I wonder why we are once again paying our Belizean negotiators six million dollars more?  Whose retirement fund is this for, Madam Speaker?”

 

Dean Barrow

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“Simply, Madam Speaker to the fact that in the Budget Book at page two-fourteen, the only reference to the Bond restructuring fee appears, and all it does is to indicate what the expected out turn will be, of twenty million Belize dollars; there is no breakdown between what is being paid to the foreign consultants and to the local consultant. And for the Leader of the Opposition to suggest that the figures disclose an eleven point one million dollar payment locally is absolutely outrageous.”

 

After some further back and forth, Briceño made his own clarification – the signing fee of two point six million and five point six million for foreign consultants, leaving the remainder for the unnamed local consultants.

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