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Dec 7, 2009

Can PM nationalize Telemedia loan without house approval?

Story PictureFor at least two weeks the status of British Caribbean Bank (Turks & Caicos) Limited’s forty-five million dollar loan to Belize Telemedia has been in the headlines. The bank has said the nationalization of Telemedia did not include the forty-five million dollar loan and demanded payment from Telemedia. Prime Minister Dean Barrow responded that Telemedia did not owe the bank anything because the loan was included in the nationalization for which the Bank would eventually be compensated. Telemedia therefore refused payment. This evening, News Five has learnt that in a Statutory Instrument Number one hundred and thirty of 2009, approved by PM Barrow last Friday, the Minister of Public Utilities nationalized the debt procured by Telemedia from the Bank. The big question tonight is whether in specifically nationalizing a loan, the government can do so without the required approval of the House of Representatives under the Finance and Audit Act as Senator Godwin Hulse had said when the issue initially surfaced. News Five sought clarification on this issue and spoke to several prominent lawyers who expressed grave doubt that the Government of Belize can assume a forty-five million dollar debt owing to a commercial bank through a Statutory Instrument without House approval. We’ll have more on this tomorrow as well as an update on the mounting debt the Barrow administration has racked up since coming into office in February 2009.


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