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Apr 29, 2021

Senator Courtenay Questions Transaction at NICH

Eamon Courtenay

During the Senate budget debate, Government Business Senator Eamon Courtenay raised a questionable transaction made by the National Institute of Culture and History under the previous administration.


Eamon Courtenay, Senator for Government Business

“We have found out a sick and sordid transaction that took place at the National Institute of Culture and History. A well-known United Democratic Party supporter, and if you mess with me I will call the name, had a lease for a piece of land for thirty years, got a mortgage from Social Security and defaulted. The National Institute of Culture and History (NICH) decided to pay off the loan to Social Security. One hundred thousand dollars was paid in 2019 by way of resolution of the board of NICH. This is a state enterprise, a statutory body dedicated to culture and history. It is paying off a mortgage for a U.D.P. supporter in the amount of one hundred thousand dollars, and the minutes reflect that the then minister of education the now temporary leader of the opposition supported the decision. The auditors Baker-tilly says, included in NICH’s records are property tax and mortgage loan repayments to the Social Security Board made on behalf of a third party Shalini and Mirna Manzanarez for a total of one hundred and two thousand five hundred and ninety dollars and ninety-eight cents, carried on its statement of financial position. Though it was evident that the pay out of the loan was duly approved on the condition that NICH would ultimately be made beneficiary to the property through inheritance, the finance department does not have on file any agreement or documentation to substantiate this arrangement or to substantiate NICH’s future right if any to the said property. Additional in discussing the matter with finance, it was further highlighted that though the expenditure had been capitalizing and carried as an asset of NICH, there is no supporting documentation under department’s file of the said treatment. Madam President, can you believe this? NICH pays off the hundred thousand, they then get the property transferred to NICH. They then lease the property to Miss Manzanarez. You know what is the rent? The lease is rented one Belizean dollar per year, fifty cents United States money for year, on which you have spent a hundred and two thousand dollars of the people’s money.”


News Five has learnt that Board of Directors at NICH is carrying out an investigation into the alleged transaction.  We have been informed that a release will be issued on the matter when the investigation has been completed.

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