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Mar 16, 2022

Injunction on C.W.U. Compensation Continues

An injunction barring the Christian Workers Union from disbursing the one point five million dollar payout from the Government of Belize has been extended.  This morning, before Justice Lisa Shoman, litigants for the Port of Belize Limited and the C.W.U. presented arguments in respect to the disbursement of the compensation provided by the Briceño administration to stevedores, twenty years after the port was privatized. Notwithstanding the passage of a supplementary appropriations bill on Tuesday, regarding the sum in question, the Supreme Court has decided to keep the injunction in place. Viewers would recall that on the weekend of February twenty-fifth, the C.W.U. attempted to proceed with payment to its membership via checks.  As a result, its accounts have essentially been frozen until the matter is ventilated in the high court. This evening, Senior Counsel Godfrey Smith gave a synopsis of what transpired today.


Godfrey Smith

Godfrey Smith, Attorney-at-law

“Until the constitutional motion is heard and determined, the injunction over whatever amount of monies remain, the CWU’s account is effectively frozen until the matter is determined or some further order of the court. This case isn’t really about whether persons should get an ex gratia payment or not.  Really, what this whole case is about is the manner in which you go about making expenditure of public monies, taxpayers monies from the public purse.  As you are aware, quite coincidentally and separate from this case, it so happened that the issue remains in public discourse based on other cases that were involved.  So it comes at a very opportune time because, as has been reported on various radio stations, the judgment of former Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin where he made certain pronouncements in terms of whether you could validate expenditure with supplementary appropriations, some doubt has been thrown into because of the failure of a perfected order and so on.  So the issue, the law remains unsettled and it needs to be clarified.  Now to your question, you have rightly said that a supplementary appropriation has been passed and more than likely it will go through the senate on Friday.  How come then, there is still a challenge? And the answer is this, the judge accepted that there is a live question, a serious question as to whether that supplementary appropriation bill is sufficient to cure the, let‘s call it the defect, in the way the payment or expenditure was made.  Why did she accept that there is a serious question?  Because the government said that it was an unforeseen and urgent expenditure and therefore the minister, by special warrant, made the payment.  The question, however, arises: from where must that payment come?”

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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