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May 17, 2018

P.M. Concedes Settlement Agreement Could Have Been Tighter

Dean Barrow

As has been noted, Sunshine Holdings did not get an exception in the 2015 settlement agreement for its debt as it was government-owned. The agreement explicitly obliged Government to take on all its assets as well as debts. So was this another error on the part of the legal team that drafted the agreement? The Prime Minister conceded that the agreement could have been more tightly drawn and readily takes at least part of the blame. But he reminded that the overarching intention of that agreement was to ease the pain of the settlement tab, which ran to half a billion dollars even before expenses are tacked on, and it could have been so much worse.


Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“You can say, nobody can quarrel with you for that, that perhaps the agreement might have been far more tightly drawn, so that the objective that I sought to achieve would have been placed beyond any possibility of challenge. That is not any opinion or conclusion that I would begrudge you. But not only do we at least get back ten million dollars; the fact is, you can’t lose sight of the central consideration. Compensation was due, and without my effort of trying to mitigate the burden of that compensation, we would have had to pay everything, including the ten million dollars we got back, and you would not have been able to say that there is anything unfair about that, because that is the compensation properly assessed by a tribunal brought into force to do precisely that. Remember as well, with respect to that assessment, it turned out to be significantly – extraordinarily so – significantly less than what the “Ashcroft Alliance” had claimed. Now you can say that people always claim more than they ultimately expect to get; but it was such a huge comedown, that that alone was a tremendous victory for the people and government of Belize. And if ultimately there was some claw back by the “Ashcroft Alliance” by attenuating the Belize dollar value of the compensation and as it were, shrinking tremendously the number of projects we could get in consequence of that Belize dollar value component, well, that’s how it came out in the round at the end of the day.”

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