By Aaron Humes : The Parliament met on Friday for its first business session since the November 4th General Elections.
Brought before the house were several loan motions and money related bills.
One was a loan motion for US 12 million dollars from the OPEC Fund for International Development. The partial financing of 39 percent will be used for the reconstruction of the Hummingbird Highway.
The loan term is for 20 years at a 2.75 percent interest rate.
Also brought before the House was a supplementary appropriation bill for the sum of 44.7 million dollars from Petrocaribe Funds for the financial year ending on March 31st, 2016.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow blamed elections for the delay in bringing such supplementary bills to the house according to previous legislation.
The supplementary bill generated some level of debate with the Fort George member, Honorable Said Musa pointing out that the majority of the 44.7 million dollars was spent just before the elections. He was rebutted by his opponents who listed the many accomplishments with flood assistance provided by the money. After some back and forth, Mesopotamia representative Michael Finnegan told Toledo East representative Mike Espat that they too are part of the Government, and cannot afford to continue denying their constituents their fair share of the Petrocaribe funds.
Meanwhile, Espat on adjournment proceeded to present what he called evidence of more corruption inside the immigration and police departments.
He spoke of a scam of 14 villagers seeking documents being charged $1,000 by an agent, which they paid in a location off the Valley of Peace Road.
But Prime Minister Dean Barrow was unfazed and in rebutting what the Honorable Espat had presented, he turned the tables on Espat, announcing that according to his reports the agent involved is a PUP operative and close personal friend of Espat’s.
The Prime Minister told reporters after the meeting that he was not sure if the documents they received were legitimate, and is of the view that the whole thing was a dupe. Substantive Minister of Immigration, Senator Godwin Hulse would give more details, he said.
We have not received any Government release or police report on this matter and we intend to follow up to establish whether or not any criminal charges are expected soon.
And finally, the embarrassing case of international fugitive David Miguel Nanes Schnitzer was raised inside the House on Friday by Honorable Kareem Musa. Musa is now Caribbean Shores Area Representative but he is also the attorney who represented COLA in their private prosecution against former Minister of Immigration Elvin Penner and Commissioner of Police Allen Whylie last year. They wanted and got the court to compel Whylie to carry out a proper investigation into the Kim Won Hong case though its results have not been made public.
According to Musa, the latest immigration foul up has re-opened the national wound of the Elvin Penner Passport scandal.
In response, Prime Minister Dean Barrow further clarified what he had told the media last Saturday about the Nanes case as it relates to the extradition request by the Mexicans. They want him for running the Mexican arm of the R. Allen Stanford Ponzi scheme which defrauded investors of hundreds of millions of dollars.
At that time he said there had not been follow through with the extradition treaty between the two countries. Yesterday he pointed out that while the treaty WAS ratified, it was required for it to be incorporated into municipal law and that did not happen.
In an interview outside the House, Barrow stated that the Mexicans are extremely upset about it all, and have officially questioned what happened to the treaty’s implementation. Pending a report from the Attorney General, he said he is prepared to apologize to the Mexicans though he continued to insist that Belize
We asked the Prime Minister if he has gotten assurances from the Police Department that there is an intense attempt to locate Nanes:he explained that even though he had given police the slip they continue to hunt him. The matter was discussed at the last National Security Council meeting.
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