By Alexis R. Milan Staff Reporter
The Government of Belize and the Belize Bank were in court this week to make closing arguments in the case of a $33 million loan owed to the bank for the former Universal Health Services.
Justice Shona Griffith heard arguments from both sides and reserved judgement for December 16th. The government was represented by attorney Denys Barrow and the Belize Bank was represented by attorney Eamon Courtenay and Jose Alpuche.
Barrow said the government’s argument is that you cannot pay any money out of public funds without the constitution or some law authorizing it to be done. Barrow said the 2007 loan note was to be paid with public funds but that never happened due to public protests, which led to the bank taking GOB to arbitration. The arbitration tribunal decided GOB should pay the loan note but the government noted that paying money from the National Treasury would be illegal.
According to Barrow, Belize Health Care Partners borrowed $45 million from Belize Bank and used $39 million to acquire UHS assets but the money they borrowed was money from Taiwanese and Venezuelan grants.
Barrow said the bank had already been paid the $39 million and is trying to collect again while the Belizean public never got anything for the sale of UHS.
“The government objects to paying, pointing out that the Caribbean Court of Justice recently ruled that if it will be contrary to public policy, because it would be an illegal action to do something or to order the enforcement of something, the Courts should not order enforcement.
“So we are asking that to be done,” Barrow said.
The Bank argued that the matter was ventilated and settled at arbitration and the Supreme Court was being asked to enforce the arbitration award and not to hear an appeal on the matter.