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Dec 8, 2017

P.M. Says Hold Off on U.H.S. Debt Payment until House Meets Next

The last House of Representatives meeting for 2017 was more even-tempered than usual, perhaps reflecting the current season. Members debated two motions and passed four outstanding bills, including the legislation for the oil moratorium. But while it only got passing mention in this gathering, the Universal Health Services debate still hangs over the National Assembly’s head going into the new year, when it will be one of the first things debated in the people’s house. Prime Minister Dean Barrow is preparing himself for that meeting, which happens once the notice from the Belize Bank lands on the Prime Minister’s desk sometime next week following on a ruling by the Caribbean Court of Justice. While P.M. Barrow says Government will not attempt to shy away from its duties, events in the National Assembly will have a bearing on when – and possibly if – the money is paid up.

 

Dean Barrow

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“We clearly are waiting until we get the certificate, which can only be issued twenty-one days after the judgment. But once that certificate comes, I think we will want to have a special meeting as quickly as is practicable.”

 

Reporter

“Is there a timestamp – once you get the certificate is there a timestamp, or risk imprisonment?”

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“I don’t think so. We are quite clear that the monies have to be voted by Parliament; there are all sorts of arguments with the other side as to whether Parliament’s vote in a certain way is obligatory. We’ve announced to you and to the world that once we get the certificate, we will come to parliament with the supplementary allocation, I don’t see that there is any risk that if we take a couple of weeks before we in fact summon the meeting that that could be misinterpreted as a desire or determination on our part not to call the meeting at all. The meeting will be called.”

 

Reporter

“Probably early in the New Year?”

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“Assuming that the certificate comes as early as it come, certainly not later that the middle of January, I would think perhaps the first week in January.”

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