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May 29, 2009

Case of S.E.L. versus City Council ends in stalemate

Story PictureThe case of Sanitation Enterprises Limited versus the Belize City Council of over a one point seven million dollar debt ended in court today. Justice Minnet Hafiz-Bertram delivered her seven page ruling, and there was neither a winner nor a loser. The judgment stipulates that CitCo is to pay S.E.L. the one point seven million dollars. But the former garbage company that that sold off its contract to Belize Maintenance Limited, won’t get its hands on the council’s monthly subventions as it had argued in court. Justice Hafiz-Bertram granted CitCo six weeks to devise and present a reasonable payment plan to settle the debt. Representatives for S.E.L. did not elaborate on the ruling, but told the media that the company is considering appealing the decision. We spoke to City Councillor Responsible for Sanitation, Philip Willoughby for his reaction on today’s decision.

Philip Willoughby, Councillor Responsible for Garbage Collection
“Whatever that figure that will be derived at, will be derived at by the council and the director of financial services and then that will dictate how and what we can pay and when or in a timely manner.”

Keith Swift, Channel Seven
“Is this a victory?”

Philip Willoughby
“No, we still owe and we acknowledge we owe S.E.L. its monies. What they cannot do, is directly access our subvention, which is needed for the city; the running and maintaining of the city and its administration.”

Delahnie Bain
“Mr. Marin has indicated that there is a possibility he will appeal the decision. What is your position on that?”

Philip Willoughby
“Well, we live in a fair and equal country so they have the right to do that, but hopefully within six weeks or if we come to a closure to the matter then, we’ll put our best foot forward to deal with our indebtedness to these sanitation companies. It is in the best interest to settle the claim anyways because interest is accruing, cost of court is accruing and it will only make our indebtedness larger.”

The case came up in court after the Social Security Board demanded that the City Council pay over three hundred thousand dollars that S.E.L. owed in contributions. That debt accumulated as a result of CitCo’s failure to compensate S.E.L. for its services.

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