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Aug 29, 2022

Senate Debates Government’s $76 Million Payment to B.I.S.L.

Eamon Courtenay

The Senate met today to debate the Belize International Services Limited (B.I.S.L.) Settlement Bill. The bill calls for the payment of seventy-six million dollars by the government to B.I.S.L., after the Caribbean Court of Justice ruled that the previous government had breached an agreement it had with the company and ordered that the matter be remitted to the Supreme Court for assessment of damages. Costs were awarded in favor of B.I.SL. The current government has settled on the figure disclosed but today, the Senate debated on whether Belize could afford to pay that sum now. Various senators had their reasons for thinking differently, but at the end of the day, the upper house voted in favor of the payment.


Senator Eamon Courtenay, Leader of Government Business

“In June of 2020, three months before the U.D.P. left office, the Caribbean Court of Justice handed down a decision in which it said the United Democratic Party’s taking over of the Registry was illegal, unlawful and a commercial and administrative coup d’etat. The C.C.J. said the Government of Belize must pay B.I.S.L. damages for the seven-year extension.”


Kevin Herrera

Senator Kevin Herrera, Business Sector

“This is a poor country, but we could do a lot better than we are doing. But when we give away a gift the way we did with the B.I.S.L. arrangement, when we put priority in areas where it shouldn’t be , when we support persons or a few companies at the expense of the expense of the population, I think it’s wrong, Madam President and I think that we should do a lot better than that.”


Moses Benguche

Senator Moses Benguche, Churches

“We are now a sovereign state and we can make responsible decision and we do not take kindly to people bending our arm and forcing us to say yes to things we know will hurt our young people fifteen, twenty-five, thirty years down the road. We have to be responsible leaders, Madam President.”


Antonio Herrera

Senator Antonio Herrera, U.D.P

“If it was not for this seventy-six million dollars, nurses would be quiet, you know, because they understand the sacrifice. They’re a good people. We understand that we need to sacrifice. They were sacrificing during the pandemic – nurses, doctors, front-liners. And this is how they get paid – short ah pay, long time to pay, but yet we are here finding seventy-six million dollars to pay to B.I.S.L. I’m not saying not pay it in no way, shape, or form. We need to pay it. We need to respect that. It is there, the C.C.J has ordered it, so therefore we go to pay it. All I’m asking on behalf of the people of this country, let’s get a softer payment plan.”


Elena Smith

Senator Elena Smith, N.T.U.C.B.

“I hope we learn that persons who engage in these signing of agreements in secret, that we put things in place to hold those persons accountable, that they be held responsible for the pain that they’re putting our people through. So if that means that we must enact some laws, we must amend our Constitution to include those things, those are things that we must be doing going forward.”


Janelle Chanona

Senator Janelle Chanona, NGOs

“The colour of the context is so important so that when we look at these things, it is not just that we sign an agreement and we got into an arrangement and now we’re stuck, we have to pay. It is that we need to realize that when you look at these things, we have to look at the full picture. The details matter. And how is it that this agreement was signed on a Good Friday and now we’re at the point where we have to pay millions and millions of dollars at a time when we can least afford it, when we’re just trying to get back on our feet and move forward?”


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