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Jan 25, 2018

It’s Not Politics; Says P.U.P., but Accountability and Transparency

Eamon Courtenay

Many of the opposition’s detractors will perhaps say that the People’s United Party is simply looking to capitalize on political mileage ahead of the March seventh municipal elections, given the timing of this matter.  Senator Courtenay addresses that criticism; he also says that someone in government must be held responsible for breaking the law.

 

Eamon Courtenay, P.U.P. Senator

“We cannot be faulted by saying that we are attempting to make political mileage of this.  They were the ones who brought the bill to the National Assembly at this time and they were the ones who set the dates for the hearings and we were doing our job, okay.  So in terms of timing, they are the ones who control timing.  Secondly, and I just want to, before I answer your specific question, make the point why this is of concern to us and why it should be of concern to people is, you cannot have a hurricane on the fourth of August, 2016 and then on the sixteenth of August, 2017 approve three hundred thousand dollars for a cleanup of Belize City.  Something has to be wrong there.  Now if you tell me that the expenditure was incurred way back in 2016 but we missed it and so now we’re approving it in 2018, then something is even more wrong, right.  So let me be clear, until we receive the support documents we cannot suggest that anyone did anything wrong with the money, but there appears to be smoke.  Now, in terms of the ability of parliament to go back and correct the situation, you will note that when it came to Petrocaribe and the supplementary for Petrocaribe, it was because the People’s United Party was moving in court to say that those expenditures were illegal, that they brought the supplementary and they made them retroactive.  The reason for that was: one, to try to cover the track and say that from the time it was done it was legal, but notionally to rub out any possibility of someone going to the police and say, “look at these expenditures made without approval, violates the Finance and Audit Reform Act.”  The answer will be, “well we retroactively covered it.”  The bill that was debated in the Senate is not retroactive and it will be, in my opinion, abuse of legislative power if they now go and pass a law making it retroactive where we have highlighted to the Belizean people, where we have seen an acceptance by the government senators that there has been a violation of the law, to pass a law to protect somebody from a criminal prosecution.  That will be an abuse.  So, insofar as this is concerned, there are two issues that the party is concerned with.  One is accountability for what has been done; two, responsibility.  Someone must be held to account.”

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