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Sep 28, 2018

Opposition Lambastes GOB for Attempting to Settle NEWCO Debt

John Briceño

The Opposition hotly debated the six million U.S.-dollar settlement agreement. John Briceño led the charge questioning why government wants to settle a U.S.-based judgment when it had ignored a judgement in Belize’s courts.  According to Briceño’s calculations, the government’s tax claim with penalties and interest amount to twenty-eight million dollars, which it is giving up to NEWCO. Had the government settled in 2008, Briceño’s says it would have paid far less.

 

John Briceño, Leader of the Opposition

“It is quite ironic that just a month ago, this honorable house met to debate another motion which was the UHS settlement, a motion that the U.D.P. government introduced, only for them to vote down or to vote no.  Now this UHS motion was a settlement judgment that was handed down by the highest court in the land, the Caribbean Court of Justice.  Again, the government decided that they were going to go against the wishes of the highest court in the land and now today, about one month late, we are here today debating another settlement agreement motion for an arbitration that was handed down outside of our jurisdiction, in the United States of America. They pretty much are saying that as a government, they are going to decide which loans, which judgments or which bills will be paid and which will not be paid.  Today, the government is confirming our worst fear, that they will selectively decide what they will pay and when they will pay.  In effect, if you’re good to them they will pay you, if you’re not, they will punish you; which begs the question again, why has the government decided to bring this bill now?   There was no urgency to pay it off.  I remember the prime minister in his, on the last debate saying that they don’t have money.  So why is it all of a sudden we di find money to quickly settle this thing, this bill?  The government even passed laws Madame, passed a law that would prevent companies like NEWCO to go after our assets outside of Belize.  So again, it begs the question, why now?  Is there something we don’t know?  Who setup this deal?  Is someone getting a commission by setting up this deal? We don’t know.  When you, in effect, with this settlement the government is giving up twenty-eight million, four hundred and eighty-four thousand, five hundred and eighty-six million dollars so that they could save four million dollars Belize.  You say I wahn save four million but I wahn give up twenty-eight million dollars.  Ih noh di mek sense.  Dah noh we come up with I owe, you know, da your government decide that you owe this tax, this five point seven million dollars.  So in effect, they are giving away to NEWCO over twenty-four million dollars Belize so that they could settle and pay them their six million dollars U.S., Madame Speaker.”

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