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Dec 8, 2017

Thumbs Up for N.T.U.C.B.; Down for Chamber, Belize Bank

Dean Barrow

All this week News Five has been covering the various reactions from across the political spectrum, including from the vaunted “social partners” of the Government. They have all told the Government to do its best to pay off the money and avoid further crippling interest or even litigation. The Prime Minister reiterates that the final decision is Parliament’s, while favoring a suggestion by the National Trade Union Congress of Belize to pursue an instalment plan. As regards his missive to the Belize Chamber of Commerce, he said his quarrel was about their seemingly missing the point regarding the impropriety of the original deal. And he dismissed out of hand any question of preemptive speech or contempt of court as raised by the Belize Bank in a letter this week to the Attorney General.


Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“The N.T.U.C.B. said the money should be paid in installments; whether that in fact is possible by way of the vote of parliament is another matter. But I have as I made clear to the Chamber of Commerce, I do not quarrel with those people who hold the opinion that the money should be paid – how can I quarrel with them? The fact of the matter is that in the normal course, a judgment of the court ought to be paid; so that is not an issue. But the N.T.U.C.B. went on to say, while it is their view that the money should be paid – pay the money in instalments, but pay it – that there ought to be some sort of inquiry as to how we got here. And I think they are focusing on the issue that most sticks in the craw of Belizeans – how we got here, with nothing to show for it. But first of all that’s not Courtenay’s business. And in terms of my statements, I am very much aware of what I said and I was aware when I was saying what I said, so I dismiss that out of hand, certainly with respect to myself. In terms of his saying to the Attorney General saying that he wants matters dealt with as soon as he comes up with the certificate: I am repeating, matters will be dealt with – not in the way he wants. There is clearly not going to be any payment unless and until the House votes to appropriate the money. He can holler – he and Allen and Overy – can holler until the cows come home; I am satisfied that the state of the law, the state of our constitutional and statutory arrangements, is such that that money cannot be paid, cannot be extracted from the Consolidated Revenue Fund until Parliament votes to so appropriate it. So, what Courtenay is suggesting is that as soon as he gets his certificate and he sends it, the money is to be paid – that will not happen, sir; cannot happen, in my view. You cannot go higher than the Constitution, but you look at the Finance and Audit Act; no warrant can be issued for money to come out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund except by way of a vote of Parliament. It may be that there are headings from the annual Appropriations Act that certain things can come; this is not one such. So there is no doubt in my mind, that depending on how Parliament goes, we clearly will be back in court, and I would say nothing about that.”

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