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Jan 24, 2018

G.O.B. Senators: Much Ado About Nothing

Senator Courtenay requested that Financial Secretary Joseph Waight be called into the Committee of the whole Senate after debate on the second reading of the Bill, which he was. But before that the Government’s senators tried to insist that it was all much ado about nothing. Both Senator Stephen Duncan and later Godwin Hulse admitted that the presentation of the bill did not meet the requirements of both the Finance and Audit Act and accompanying legislation, but they seemed to downplay the importance of that. According to Michael Peyrefitte, Aldo Salazar and Duncan, the information being requested by the Opposition and social partner Senators was readily available and nothing was being hidden by the Government. Furthermore, they suggested, it was natural for time to elapse as the cost of the disaster was counted and calculated.

 

Michael Peyrefitte

Michael Peyrefitte, U.D.P. Senator

“We are transparent enough to come to the National Assembly with the information; there is no secrecy here; there is no side agreement here. You don’t have to wonder about what we are doing – it’s right here, see it here. And if you want more, go to the Financial Secretary and he will give you more; don’t come here and grandstand and [say], we should summon the Financial Secretary, like he’s a little boy, to come and explain. You go to the man and get the information that you need; that’s how you do it as a Senator. [Interruption] Senator Courtenay, I know that you are a student of logic; what you do is create a false premise, argue it and claim that you have won; it’s a false premise. Any information that you want from the government, especially financial information – you talk about laws, let me give you another one, there’s the Freedom of Information Act. I’m saying the same thing over and over at every Senate meeting; it’s the same thing, like I’m speaking to children. It’s the same thing. The information is there; go and get it!”

 

Stephen Duncan

Stephen Duncan, U.D.P. Senator

“The spending did not take place all in one month, nor did it take place in all of two months; nor did it take place all in three months. It clearly took place over a period of time. And it would have been, I think, premature to bring the bill prior to the finance people, primarily the Ministry of Finance, knowing what was the final tally, so that time had to elapse.”

 

Aldo Salazar

Aldo Salazar, U.D.P. Senator

“If you’re going to complain that this is late or this is out of time that is one thing. But the problem that I and my colleagues are having is that you are imputing improper motives; that is different. That’s what you are doing, imputing improper motives, and that is why you get this type of response. Because there is a perfectly good explanation as to why what Senator [Duncan] spoke about. It is ridiculous to believe that you can estimate the damages from a hurricane within twenty-one days. Hurricane Earl, the estimated damage was one hundred and eighty-three point six million dollars; it affected four thousand six hundred and eighty-four households or a total of seventeen thousand Belizeans. Now you want to tell me that within three weeks, you are supposed to be able to say [that] ten million dollars is going to correct this?”

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