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UDP ministers will vote ‘No’ to paying UHS debt

Posted: Friday, November 24, 2017. 1:17 pm CST.

BBN Staff: Four UDP ministers, in interviews with Channel 7 News, said that they would vote “no” if and when the motion to pay the Belize Bank $90 million for a secret agreement made by the Said Musa PUP administration, is brought to the House of Representative by Prime Minister Dean Barrow.

The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), this week, ruled in favor of the Belize Bank regarding the debt for the former Universal Health Services hospital, allowing the bank to enforce a 2013 arbitration award against Belize. The original award was for $39 million, but years of unsuccessful legal battles by the Barrow administration and accruing interest  (over $50 million) have caused the finally tally to balloon.

In the aftermath of the ruling, high-ranking UDP ministers including Micheal Finnegan, Anthony “Boots” Martinez, John Saldivar and Tracy Taegar-Panton told 7News they could not, “in good conscience” and as a matter of principle, vote to support paying the debt. Each minister pointed to Belize not having anything to show for paying $90 million for the private hospital.

Ministers Finnegan and Martinez spoke passionately and with emotion when discussing the issue. Finnegan said he was extremely disappointed with the CCJ’s decision and said the court showed it had “no conscience” toward the poor people of Belize. Finnegan said Belize’s two biggest mistakes were electing the Said Musa PUP administration and choosing the CCJ over the Privy Council.

Saldivar said he believes there was still a way legally for GOB to avoid paying the award. Taegar-Panton said for her the decision was personal becuase coming from a PUP family and working with the party in the past, she saw the fleecing of public funds, vowing to fight corruption. She said with that in mind, there was no way she could support paying the debt.

It remains to be seen what PM Barrow’s position will be when he takes the matter to parliament but the public statements of key UDP ministers may pressure him to take the same position to stand against paying the award despite the CCJ ruling.

 

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