Posted: Thursday, November 23, 2017. 10:00 a.m. CST.
By Hugh O’Brien: BUKUT NUMBER 1 – Former Prime Minister of Belize, Said Musa, guaranteed a Belize Bank loan for the Universal Health Services (UHS) owned by PUP cronies and ended up paying the Belize Bank $40 million for this private hospital in December 2007. Belizeans got nothing for this $40 million investment, not even the hospital or any of its equipment.
BUKUT NUMBER 2 – Current Prime Minister of Belize, Dean Barrow comes behind in August 2008 and takes away 20 of the $40 million paid by Musa to the Belize Bank, and shares it with his UDP cronies and loyal followers as housing and home improvement grants. At 17% interest this $20 million kept on growing and now the Belizean people are paying $88 million for this $20 million taken away by Barrow from the bank and we still have nothing to show for it.
Two of Belize’s ‘smartest’ lawyers , in some way shape or form, by design, collusion, cronyism, expensive mistake, political ‘gimmickry’ or otherwise have Belizeans paying a total of $108 million, $40 million by Musa and $68 million by Barrow ($88 million to be paid now less the $20 million Barrow took away from Belize Bank) for a hospital, now known as Belize Healthcare Partners that we do not own, and whose medical services and cost are out of the reach of average Belizeans.
The 88 million dollars BUKUT that the people of Belize was served on November 22nd 2017 by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) is a classic case of alleged corruption and greed within the highest ranks of Musa’s PUP, followed by arrogance and possibly false pretense by the current leadership of the UDP. Was this a carefully orchestrated game or a play-play fight with Ashcroft? In the end, the people of Belize are taking 2 BUKUTS, 1 under Musa and 1 under Barrow, for a hospital that we do not own or is hardly affordable to most Belizeans. And whose laughing all the way – Ashcroft and the Belize Bank.
Who is to blame for this additional $88 million BUKUT that we are now obliged to pay for the Universal Health Services saga? Is it Said Musa and his 2003-2008 PUP? They laid the foundation for this problem. Or is it Dean Barrow and his 1998-2017 UDP? Is corruption and arrogance at the center stage of this PUP/UDP game with Ashcroft and the Belize Bank?
In analyzing this financial debacle, Breaking Belize News provides the facts below. Readers are advised to reflect on these facts, ask the hard questions, and draw their own independent conclusions on who is to blame, and why we have to pay for a private hospital that really should not concern us.
Chapter 1 –The Belize Bank loaned Universal Health Services some money prior to 2004 and with the capitalization of interest this loan reached $16 million by 2004. The Development Finance Corporation also loaned the UHS some $8 million or so, and the Belize Bank eventually took over and added this $8 million loan to the original $16 million borrowed from the bank and this was guaranteed by the Musa administration. With interest this loan ballooned to $33.5 million in 2007 and so in March 2007, the Government of Belize entered into a Settlement Deed with the Belize Bank which obligated the government to pay BZ$33.5 million with 17% interest accruing daily. That debt was to have been paid no later than September 23rd, 2007 but interest payment was to begin in April 2007. Government failed to meet its interest payments and so the Belize Bank invoked arbitration proceedings to get its money. However, in December 2007, Musa’s PUP secured and paid off the Belize Bank some $40 million, representing the $33.5 million plus 17% interest and other costs that accrued between March 2007 and December 2007. Twenty (20) of this $40 million was obtained as a housing/home improvement grant from Venezuela and the other $20 million was a grant from Taiwan to be used for improving the healthcare system in Belize. The ‘cesspit’ opened by Musa’s PUP in 2004 was closed by Musa in December 2007 but only after costing Belize $40 million.
Chapter 2 – In February 2008 a general election was held and Barrow’s UDP was elected to office and Barrow opened back the ‘cesspit’. With the change of government came the revelation by Barrow that the PUP government had received BZ $40 million from the Venezuelan government as grant money for the construction of houses for poor Belizeans and that half of the money ($20 million) had been diverted along with $20 million from Taiwan to settle the Universal Health Services’ debt with the Belize Bank. While Barrow explained that he could not argue against the use of Taiwan’s $20 million as it was earmarked for improvement of Belize’s health care, the use of the secret Venezuela gift to pay the Belize Bank ran counter to the agreement signed between the two nations. This was the justification used by Barrow to leave the Taiwan money alone but to go after the Venezuelan money. The UDP government actively pursued the money through the local courts which ruled in the government’s favour. In August 2008, $20 million of the Venezuelan money was returned to government and the Barrow administration gave out this money to UDP cronies and supporters in a widely publicized home improvement/housing grant programme. No one knows how much homes were improved, or if any houses were built, with this money but many loyal followers received their cheddars.
Chapter 3 – The Belize Bank did not let up to get back the $20 million paid by Musa and taken away by Barrow. Ashcroft and his bank continued legal proceedings first at the Privy Council in London, in the US and then at the Caribbean Court of Justice, and won every single case in all these international courts. Musa, Barrow and the Belize Bank knew that the Settlement Deed was earning 17% interest and accruing daily, so if the Belize Bank won, the interest payments would be hefty.
The end – On a fateful November 22nd 2017 morning, the Caribbean Court of Justice ruled that Belizeans have to pay the Belize Bank a total of $88 million, representing the $20 million taken away in August 2008 from the Belize Bank and $68 million in interest and legal fees accrued since August 2008. In the end Belize is paying $108 for a hospital that we do not own. If we pay now the ‘cesspit’, which is much stinker now, is closed again. If we do not pay, the ‘cesspit’ remains open, gaining 17% interest accruing daily and the stench becomes stronger.
Musa says he is vindicated and appears to be laughing…Barrow has not shown his face yet and no one knows if he is laughing, but we all know who is laughing…and it is not, should not, and cannot be the Belizean people. Unless that is…if you are a PUP or UDP crony or blind-sighted supporter and knows not why you are laughing.
Who is to blame??? We leave you to ponder…while collectively we have to pay another Ashcroft bill.
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