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Dec 6, 2017

Mark Lizarraga Agrees U.H.S. is a Mess

Two most recent presidents of the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry – incumbent Nikita Usher and predecessor Kay Menzies – have been vocal that the G.O.B. must respect the rule of law and pay the ninety million dollars, which is growing in principal and interest on what was initially a loan of thirty-three and a half million dollars from the Belize Bank Limited to Universal Health Services. Usher and Menzies have also been clear that if parliament approves, the Government should not consider a tax increase to repay the loan.  Instead, it should seek ways to save funds from overspending and unnecessary losses. Senator for the business community Mark Lizarraga mostly agrees though he is holding his cards for a future debate. But he agreed to share his “preliminary thoughts” on the matter this afternoon in Belmopan.

 

Mark Lizarraga

Mark Lizarraga, Senator, Business Community

“The persons that we have entrusted for interpreting our laws at the very highest level is the Caribbean Court of Justice. They have looked at all the legal arguments – I am not an attorney – and they have said you have to follow the law, this is our ruling. If we are going to be a society based on the rule of law, we have to at some stage – again, I’m not an attorney – listen to what the highest court of law in our land is advising, is suggesting, has written on. Those are my preliminary views, to be honest with you; I’m looking forward, like everybody else is, to hearing the debates in the House on Friday, and by the looks of it, it might not even hit the Senate, because if the House does not approve it, then it does not have to come to the Senate, so I might not have to worry about that from that perspective. It’s alarming to think that we can be less than responsible – somebody used the term ‘kicking the can down the road’ – fully recognizing that it is a debt, it remains a debt whether parliament approves or not, it’s going to remain a debt, and at some stage, some new mechanism or some other mechanism may come to haunt us when it’s a billion dollars or whatever it is at that stage. The debt is compounding at an astronomical rate; it’s over one point two million dollars per month, the last I looked, that the interest keeps compounding. So that’s frightening. The Chamber did some exercises and the talking is that in the next four, five years, it could be a hundred sixty-odd million. Here we started out with ten million being taken from a debt that was already paid and now it’s at ninety million. If we don’t address it, it will keep racking up. It’s a liability that remains; it’s concerning.”

 

In addition to listening to Friday’s sitting of the House of Representatives where the topic is likely to be raised, but not tabled, Lizarraga will meet with his advisory committee from the Chamber and Better Business Bureau in the coming days.

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