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Opposition criticizes GOB loan guarantee for BTL

Posted: Saturday, January 6, 2018. 8:44 p.m. CST.

By BBN Staff: The People’s United Party )PUP) has condemned the government of Belize for reversing its position on sovereign guarantees after Prime Minister Dean Barrow tabled a motion in the House of Representatives this week for a sovereign guarantee of $17.5 million for Belize Telemedia Limited.

The motion backs BTL for the loan from the Republic of China (Taiwan), which BTL will use for infrastructure upgrades to improve service delivery. Caribbean Shores Areas Representative, Kareem Musa was the first to voice his discontent with the motion, saying he never thought he would see the day the Barrow administration issues a sovereign guarantee.

I cannot help but recognize the irony in this particular motion,” Musa said, “The same thing this Prime Minister has condemned in the past he is now asking the Belizean people or asking this house to approve a loan with a sovereign guarantee.”

Musa added that Barrow has been critical of the Universal Health Services sovereign guarantee, issued under the Said Musa administration, for the last ten years.

Barrow, in response, acknowledged that both the BTL and US motions were for private companies but drew a distinction by noting that BTL is a company wanted by the Government of Belize.

UHS was a private company, privately owned and controlled. BTL is a private company owned and controlled by the people of Belize,” Barrow said.

He went on to say that when Musa issued that UHS guarantee, it was in the interest of a private company, owned by “cronies” of the PUP government, to make a private profit.

Another notable difference between the two motions was that Musa issued the UHS guarantee without prior approval of Cabinet or taking it to the House of Representatives, eventually causing a rift in the PUP that lead to the resignation of former Deputy Prime Minister and current party leader John Briceño.

In 2007 Musa explained that at the time, he did not “consider it necessary” to inform Cabinet, because there was already a Development Finance Corporation (DFC) guarantee, which is an arm of the government.

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