By Alexis R. Milan
The legal claim filed against the government of Belize in relation to the use of Petrocaribe funds is about ensuring GOB’s compliance with Financial Orders and Regulations, PUP leader Francis Fonseca said this week.
Fonseca said the claim is not about the past but rather it is to ensure that moving forward, the government follows the proper procedures.
Fonseca added that the claim is not an attack on development and the PUP is not trying to stop GOB from using PetroCaribe funds. But there needs to be a stop to waste and corruption and accountability is important.
PUP Deputy Leader, Julius Espat said that Prime Minister Dean Barrow has violated the provisions of his own amendment in 2012 of the Finance Act. He argued that the PM knowingly put a loan motion to the House, seeking to retroactively approve GOB borrowing when he should have gotten approval from the House beforehand.
“He had previously spent the money before that and he hasn’t come to the National Assembly to seek approval for the spending of the money.
“And now they are trying to spin it in such a way that we are unpatriotic and we are against infrastructure projects and development. We are not against that. What is unpatriotic is when you break the law,” Espat said.
PUP attorney handling the claim, Andrew Marshaleck said the loan motion makes clear that the Executive is usurping functions of the legislature and that is a problem that goes to the root of our democracy.
“Section 72 of the Finance and Audit Reform Act 2005, cannot and does not provide authorization to borrow after the fact of borrowing. It expressly contemplates prior approval of relevant loan agreements.
“The section also speaks to borrowings from commercial lenders or capital markets only, but the borrowing is neither. So the attempt to authorize the borrowing by way of a motion is misguided. It is trying to force something that doesn’t fit into a space into which it can’t fit”, Marshaleck said.