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May 28, 2009

Arguments presented in S.E.L. vs CitCo case

Story PictureJustice Minnet Hafiz-Bertram heard submissions today in a case brought against the Belize City Council and Attorney General by Sanitation Enterprises Limited (S.E.L.). Although S.E.L. went out of business and sold its contracts to Belize Maintenance Limited, CitCo still owes the garbage collection company one point seven million dollars. And because of CitCo’s debt to S.E.L., the company fell behind with payments of Social Security contributions and accumulated a debt of over three hundred thousand dollars, which S.S.B. now wants the City Council to pay. So where will CitCo get the money to cover their debts? Attorney for S.E.L., Andrew Marshalleck, argued today that the monthly subventions that the council receives from G.O.B. should be paid to S.E.L. He says that the purpose of the subventions, according to the City Council Act, is to assist the municipality to carry out its affairs and the S.E.L. debt should be no exception. Priscilla Banner, who represented the AG’s office, responded by saying that the subventions are public funds and must be deposited directly to the City Council fund. She says that if government pays the monies to S.E.L., it would be a breach of the City Council Act. Banner also pointed out that if the government does not want the subvention to be used for the debts, next year’s funds may not be granted. She went as far as quoting President Barack Obama as saying (quote) “Everyone has common ground” (unquote) and asked that the two parties find their common ground in arranging a settlement. On CitCo’s part, Attorney Deshawn Arzu, submitted that the council acknowledges the debt and intends to settle. They are, however, requesting a month and a half to sort out a payment plan. Arzu asked that the court use its discretion and consider that the council is also settling debts with Belize Maintenance Limited as well as Belize Waste Control. We got a reaction to today’s submissions from a confident Marshalleck and City Councillor Responsible for Garbage Collection, Philip Willoughby after the case.

Andrew Marshalleck, Attorney for Sanitations Enterprise Limited
“The only comment I would have is I would hope that the council would see it fit to make an offer to settle this long outstanding obligations.”

Delahnie Bain
“And you’re confident after your submissions?”

Andrew Marshalleck
“If I weren’t I wouldn’t have made them.”

Philip Willoughby, Councillor Responsible for Garbage Collection
“Political decisions have bad effects and the repercussions will be far fetched and the only persons who stand to lose are the residents of the city by way of these contracts that were orchestrated and whoever the architects were who has the past council and this current council facing these arbitrations. It’s unfortunate, but like the attorney for the council said, we have to await the decision for tomorrow.”

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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