Posted: Tuesday, February 18, 2020. 12:55 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: Belize’s most powerful men are at each other’s throats after Prime Minister Dean Barrow refused to proceed, for now, with an amendment to the Constitution to address supplementary allocations.
Opposition Leader John Briceno responded to the Prime Minister’s letter of Monday, which was, in turn, responding to his original letter of last Friday.
First, he insists that his party never supported the Supplementary budgets brought to the House of Representatives in the past decade.
“The truth is that the PUP decried the fact that you provided no disclosure of the underlying expenditures, and we strongly criticized you for bringing Bills after you had unlawfully spent the monies. The fact is, even if you do not wish to accept it, that social partners also complained bitterly, and continue to demand full transparency,” Briceno writes.
He then takes issue with the Prime Minister’s assertion that he has complied with the Petrocaribe Loans Act, and asserts himself that there has been no proper accounting of Petrocaribe spending.
Briceno makes note that there is no denial by the Prime Minister of violating the Finance and Audit (Reform) Act. “I remind you that it is a criminal offense to violate the provisions of the Act. The ugly truth is that in all your diatribe, the fact remains that you have become the very thing you swore not to tolerate. You, Mr. Prime Minister, are the greatest hypocrite of them all,” Briceno charges, after warning that the people would have the final say.
Briceno says he “repeat(s) each and every demand that I made in my letter. My Party will not rest until you have complied. The Contractor General Act is clear and mandatory that government contracts must be reviewed by the Contractor General before they are entered into by the Government. By law, the Contractor General performs an independent oversight role with responsibility to the National Assembly.
The Solicitor General performs no such function and indeed is personally selected by you to support your Government. The idea that you believe that the Solicitor General performed in place of the Contractor General reflects your complete lack of respect for transparency in government procurement and accountability for public expenditure.
The fact is that once again you repeatedly broke the law by failing to comply with the Finance and Audit Reform Act. History records, Mr. Barrow, that you have the stain and stench of being the only Prime Minister of Belize that has been found by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to have contravened the Constitution. The ugly truth is that ‘yuh name stink dah road.”
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