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Mar 7, 2019

Julius Espat: “The Prime Minister is not listening to anybody”

Tonight there are more details about a suit against the government. Leader of the Opposition John Briceño and Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee Julius Espat have launched a lawsuit against Prime Minister Dean Barrow, Finance Secretary Joseph Waight, and Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte. PM Barrow is named as the first defendant as the Minister of Finance in a claim filed on Monday. The P.U.P. is asking the court to declare that the Barrow Administration has breached the Constitution of Belize and the Finance and Audit Reform Act. As we first reported on Wednesday, the P.U.P. is claiming that the dozens of General Revenue Supplementary Appropriations, amounting to one point three billion dollars, did not receive the required approval from the National Assembly. The claim is asking the court to grant a permanent injunction, tying the hands of the Finance Minister from appropriating funds without the approval of the House.

 

Julius Espat

Julius Espat, Chairman, Public Accounts Committee

“In that specific report the Auditor General stated that a warrant was not issued in the House. In fact for that year they didn’t even come to the House. So that is even worse. It was acknowledged by the Financial Secretary that that was a fact. Subsequent to that the Senate had a hearing with the monies spent for supplementaries also and the Financial Secretary was also questioned in the Senate. He also agreed that this has been continuously occurring. In the claim, the attorneys are saying that even his body language and the way he responded it was like ‘run of the day, it’s cool, it’s alright’. But it is not cool. It is not right. It is not lawful. And we are saying that we don’t want this Prime Minister to continue doing it and we don’t want any future Prime Minister to do it. That is why we decided that it was important that we have the judiciary decided on it so that precedent can be set.”

 

Reporter

“Aren’t there unforeseen events such as for example if you have to make a settlement payment for the Ashcroft Alliance that comes out of court?”

 

Julius Espat

“Yes but you come to the court first. Get approval and then you do it. And you can’t do it from the Consolidated Fund. The constitution says that you have to take money out of the Consolidated Fund, create a Contingency Fund and then utilize that to be able to operate. You can’t just dabble in the kitty the way you want.”

 

Hipolito Novelo

“Not to preempt the justice, but you are also looking declarations; that is it unlawful, illegal and that the practice is in contravention of the Constitution of Belize. If he does declare that, is it your believe that he would grant the injunction because it would be preempting the actions of future Ministers of Finance?”

 

Julius Espat

“I think he should because if they are doing it illegally should he stop them?”

 

Hipolito Novelo

“But one would say that he declaring that it is unlawful and you are saying that the laws say it is unlawful would be enough.”

 

Julius Espat

“But what we say, we are politicians sp nobody wants to believe us so let the judge decide.  That’s the way we are in Belize. The culture in Belize is a back and forth. It’s the U.D.P. says against what the P.U.P. says. I understand the reality.”

 

Hipolito Novelo

“You truly believe that the injunction is necessary?”

 

Julius Espat

“Of course it is because the Prime Minister is not listening to anybody. He is the best legal mind, You didn’t see that he chastised a judge because he didn’t agree to what he wants him to agree to? So how can you expect somebody like that to even think objectively?”


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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