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$95M VOTE GOES TO THE HOUSE

$95M VOTE GOES TO THE HOUSE
August 30
09:47 2018

The Government of Belize has announced a Special Sitting of the House of Representatives this Friday, during which a vote will be taken on whether or not to pay the $95 million award owed to the Belize Bank over the complex UHS agreement signed by the former PUP administration.

The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) ruled in the bank’s favor last November, ordering GOB to honor the award to the tune of $90 million plus costs and legal fees adding to the final tally. On January 3, 2018 a certificate for payment of the judgment debt owed by the government was issued by the CCJ. The original award of US$25.2 million was handed down by the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA). After a series of failed litigation at the CCJ and in US circuit courts, the CCJ delivered the judgement including the sum of the award, plus costs, taxes, and an accruing interest rate at 6% per annum.

Since then, there have been several rounds of litigation and back and forth between the interested parties regarding the rate of interest to be applied and steps by the bank to collect on the judgement. This has culminated with the bank filing an application for judicial review of Prime Minister/Minister of Finance, Dean Barrow’s failure to satisfy the judgement.

The bank is seeking a declaration that the Minister of Finance has failed to pay and an order giving the government 10 days to satisfy the debt. The first hearing of that application is scheduled for September 17, hence, GOB need to table the matter sooner than later.

Several government parliamentarian had previously publicly expressed their views on the controversial vote, stating explicitly that they vote against the bill. Government ministers that expressed similar views included Michael Finnegan, Anthony “Boots” Martinez, John Saldivar, Tracy Panton, Pablo Marin, Angel Campos, Hugo Patt and Frank “Pawpa” Mena. Barrow had also previously told the media that he instructed his comrades to “vote their conscience.”

The PUP, meanwhile, has reserved revealing their position until hearing GOB’s presentation on Friday. PUP Leader, John Briceño told the media this week that his party has decided to hold off on their position until hearing the presentation and reviewing the appropriation bill for the $95 million award. Briceño added that if Barrow’s government votes against the bill he is bringing to present to the House, it is a sign that he should “resign because he has lost total control of his government”.

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