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Nov 28, 2017

P.M. to speak Wednesday, but Cabinet says no to U.H.S. and Belize Bank

Wilfred Elrington

Cabinet met in Belmopan this morning, ahead of a scheduled press conference for ten o’clock in Belize City on Wednesday, to discuss government’s position on the pending ninety million dollar U.H.S. debt. Last Wednesday, the Caribbean Court of Justice gave leave for the Belize Bank to enforce collection on the judgment for the loan which goes back to 2004. The sitting concluded right after midday; most ministers having made up their minds and spoken out publicly in days past. There were no comments offered by the Prime Minister but News Five understands that there was a unanimous decision among members not to vote in favor of a motion to be tabled at the next meeting of the House of Representatives which has to be held before mid December.  That motion is to seek parliament’s consent to draw down on the eight figure sum from the Consolidated Revenue Fund to meet the payment to the Bank. The media camped out today and our interviews with several ministers, as they exited the Sir Edney Cain Building earlier today, alludes to the notion that government may not be paying its debt to the Belize Bank anytime soon. We begin with Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington who flatly said that his position on the matter is unwavering.

 

Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs

“The Prime Minister is going to be giving a press conference, he is going to go into detail along with the other members of the Cabinet, tomorrow.  And then after that I will be happy to add my contribution to what they say, but I wouldn’t want to get into any of that now.”

 

Reporter

“But it’s safe to say that after today’s Cabinet meeting [that] your position remains the same.”

 

Wilfred Elrington

“It’s not going to change, it’s only become more firm.”

 

Reporter

“When this matter comes to the House of Representatives, how will you vote as a representative for Orange Walk East?”

 

Elodio Aragon Jr., Minister of State, Ministry of Police

Elodio Aragon Jr.

“Well if this matter comes to the House, you know I stand for the people of this country.  I stand for what is right and definitely I would not support that, you know.”

 

Reporter

“But what is right, just theoretically, if a debt is owed it must be paid.”

 

Elodio Aragon Jr.

“Right.  My whole thing here is that you have to understand the big picture in this thing and my simple answer is, I’m here for the people, I’m here to ensure that we protect the Belizean people from this heinous, corrupt act of the PUP regime when they were there and I do think that, like I said, when it comes to the House, I’ll vote against it.”

 

Michael Finnegan

Michael Finnegan, Minister of Housing

“Ah feel di same way.”

 

Reporter

“You said that you could be persuaded otherwise.”

 

Michael Finnegan

“Ah feel di same way.”

 

Tracy Panton, Minister of Economic Development

Tracy Panton

“My position was not only based on my personal views, but the views of members of my constituency.  Tomorrow we will have a press conference and government’s official position will be tabled.”

 

Reporter

“But your position and that of the constituents remains the same?”

 

Tracy Panton

“[It] remains the same.”

 

Anthony Martinez

Anthony ‘Boots’ Martinez, Minster of Works

“For me as an area representative, my no remains the same.”

 

Reporter

“So nobody in the Cabinet prevailed upon you?”

 

Anthony Martinez

“I noh know bout nobody.  The Prime Minister will have his press conference tomorrow and he will dictate the pace as to what and what is the motion of the Cabinet and the party moving forward.  That’s all I will say, but I just need to say, I can’t say nothing more than I said last week, that my commitment and my vote for no, will remain no, regardless or irrespective of what formulation it will be.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Can you give us an idea of the atmosphere of the meeting this morning?”

 

Anthony Martinez

“It was very good man.  It was good and sensible.  The atmosphere was good man.”

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