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Mar 13, 2018

Who is Responsible for P.U.C.?

Things got a bit testy at the start of Friday’s house meeting, during the section reserved for questions for ministers. Opposition Leader John Briceño wanted to know when audits of the Public Utilities Commission would be made publicly available. Weeks ago, there were reports of mismanagement at the PUC – allegations that the commission has attributed to an incomplete and unofficial audit. Briceño, feeling he got an unsatisfactory response from Public Utilities Minister Hugo Patt, tried to follow-up with the Prime Minister.


John Briceño

John Briceño, Leader of the Opposition

“Can the Minister responsible for Public Utilities inform this Honorable House what reports or budget estimates of the Public Utilities Commission have been submitted since 2008 to the Minister of Finance, as required by section thirty-nine of the Public Utilities Commission Act?”


Hugo Patt

Hugo Patt, Area Rep., Corozal North

“The P.U.C. Act does not require the Public Utilities Commission to submit budgets to the Minister of Finance. The Act says that the P.U.C. may submit a budget to the Minister of Finance. Lawyers and auditors have advised that since the National Assembly does not appropriate funds for the P.U.C. then there is no obligation for the P.U.C. to do so. However, the P.U.C. has engaged a certified public accountant since 2008, and those copies have been forwarded to the Minister of Finance.”


John Briceño

“Can the Minister responsible inform this Honorable House when we will get a copy of these audited reports? (Interruption) Well then, can the Minister of Finance tell us when we will get it? (Interruption) Why are you dodging the question?”


Dean Barrow

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“Sir, you have been here too long; you have to follow the Standing Orders.”


John Briceño

“Just answer the question.”


Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“No, sir! No, sir!”


John Briceño

“You’re dodging the question! You’re dodging – even the Minister didn’t answer properly; but we’ll argue about that later.”

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