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Apr 30, 2007

PUPs defend Musa/UHS guarantee…

Story PictureIn the fallout following the much criticized Government guarantee to Universal Health Services, the People’s United Party has taken flak from the Opposition, the public and even from some of its own cabinet ministers for the implications of that decision. The guarantee, signed in December 2004 by Prime Minister Said Musa and Attorney General Francis Fonseca, is now a liability of some thirty-three million dollars at the Belize Bank and fifteen million more owing to the Development Finance Corporation. Since publication of the loan agreement, U.D.P. Leader Dean Barrow, Senator Godwin Hulse and Minister of National Development Mark Espat have all opposed its contents and called for a financial review of the debt to determine how all that money accrued over such a short time. The guarantee was the highlight of a parliamentary caucus held at Independence Hall this afternoon, which was attended by some forty Ministers, Senators and Standard Bearers. Following the meeting, P.U.P. Secretary General Henry Usher outlined the five points unanimously agreed to by party members.

Henry Usher, Secretary General, People’s United Party
“Point number one, is one, we reject the Leader of the Opposition calling on the Prime Minister to resign, we reject that completely. I’d just like to say that the resolution itself was passed unanimously by all those that were present. The second point of the resolution is that the Prime Minister acted lawfully, at all times, in settling this debt and in agreeing in the cabinet that the debt should be settled. Point three, and the points are right there on the resolution to be read by all media houses like I said, point three is that at a meeting of the Public Finance Committee a sub-committee was created by the Prime Minster to deal with this matter and that the parliamentary caucus supports a renegotiation of the Universal debt and the renegotiation of the entire process. Point four is that we reject utterly the media’s attempt to try to divide the party by singling out ministers to make individual statements on this matter. We reject that. We are putting out a party position, a party statement and this is the party statement. The fifth point of the resolution is that we are in full support of the Prime Minister, full support of our party leader The Right Honourable Said Musa and that we are calling for a national convention in June of the year. Those are the five points of the resolution”

Janelle Chanona
“Do you feel that you all were backed into a corner to give a position on this or was this in the making?”

Henry Usher
“This was in the making for a while. The meeting itself was to be called sometime in May, early May, actually it should be called late April but because it’s every three months that we call a national executive meeting we decided on today’s date when everybody would be here because we know some ministers are leaving the country this week as well so we decided that we would have it now.”

Janelle Chanona
“And who will be negotiating the new terms with the Belize Bank?”

Henry Usher
“The sub-committee of cabinet as appointed by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister or really his committee that he appointed is prepared to go back to the Belize Bank to negotiate this matter, yes.”

Janelle Chanona
“And what would be the leverage there that they would use to…?”

Henry Usher
“That would be something that would have to be discussed in cabinet. I’m certain that if the legal advice is that the Prime Minister must take it to the House of Representatives then he will take it to the House of Representatives. I have no doubt about that.”

The subcommittee that will be negotiating with the Belize Bank is in fact the Public Finance Committee comprised of Cabinet Ministers Francis Fonseca, Ralph Fonseca, Eamon Courtenay, Mark Espat, Cordel Hyde, Joe Coye, Deputy Prime Minister Johnny Briceno and Prime Minister Said Musa. Hyde, Espat and Francis Fonseca were noticeably absent from today’s meeting. The P.M. is on an official visit to Taiwan and is scheduled to return to Belize on Sunday May sixth.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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