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Mar 5, 2020

Government Gets Past First Reading of Controversial Validation Bill

Julius Espat

Of the three bills that were introduced in the House today, the Government Contracts (Validation) Bill 2020 was the most controversial.  The Barrow administration sought and successfully tabled the first reading of a proposed legislation to make legal or authorize the omission by the Minister of Finance to lay government contracts on the table of both Houses of the National Assembly for examination by each house of the National Assembly.  Effectively, what government is doing is to legalize several contracts that were not previously brought before parliament, including the hundred and thirty million dollar contract awarded to Imer Hernandez for the construction of the Coastal Highway.  The bill was met with the strongest opposition from the People’s United Party.

 

Julius Espat, Area Representative, Cayo South

“The contracts listed in schedule for the projects specified in Column One between the parties specified in Column Two, executed on the dates specified in Column Three for the amounts specified in Column Four is deemed to be cured and the late laying of the contracts is deemed valid and effectual to the extent that it would have been valid and effectual if the contracts had been laid before each House of the National Assembly in the manner required by Section 19-6 of the Finance and Audit Reform Act.  In my humble opinion Madame Speaker, the architect of this bill has to be a serial criminal.  Madame Speaker, this is the second time that we have come to this House where the Prime Minister has proposed a bill.  The first one has become an act to validate his illegal actions as the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of this country.  He has consistently, Madame Speaker, been acting illegally when it pertains to the Finance and Audit Reform Act and he has been consistent in acting unconstitutionally Madame Speaker.  In his position as Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister of this country. I calculated the one point five billion dollars of illegal spending and we could have free education and free healthcare for the entire nation for twenty years, free.  Yet Madame Speaker, dehn lockup my bwai constituent fi wahn corn beef when the highest man in this land acts illegally and unconstitutionally and then comes here in our face to present another stupid bill that means absolutely nothing.  That bill, Madame Speaker, is a shame.  That bill should never come into this House Madame Speaker.  That bill is a disgrace, Madame Speaker.  That bill should never see the light of day.”

 

Kareem Musa

Kareem Musa, Area Representative, Caribbean Shores

“What this is Madame Speaker, this is actually a confession statement.  In criminal law this is an admission of guilt by the Prime Minister of this country that he has committed yet another wrong against the people of Belize.  Madame Speaker, in 2005, the unions in this country fought tooth and nail, they came to this National Assembly and they fought for reform in this country and they got changes.  They got the Finance and Audit Reform Act and that is what they fought for, that is what is deserved and what we have here today, Madame Speaker, we have a Prime Minister who is openly admitting and confessing that he has violated the Finance and Audit Reform Act.  It states [that] he wants to validate the omission by the minister to lay the government contracts on the table.  He wants to validate his criminal act and I am going to repeat.  It was a criminal act.”

 

Francis Fonseca

Francis Fonseca, Area Representative, Freetown

“Let us be very, very clear about this bill Madame Speaker, there was no omission to lay contracts on the table of the House and Senate.  This was a deliberate decision taken to bypass the law and to avoid public scrutiny of this bloated contracts.  So-called omissions Madame Speaker, and I hope the Belizean people understand this, omissions amounting to two hundred and ninety million dollars, four hundred and fifty-two thousand, two hundred and fifteen dollars.  You ever had that kind of omission?  Two hundred and ninety million dollars.”


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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