By Marion V. Ali
PUP Leader, Francis Fonseca, announced Friday, perhaps to the dismay of PUP voters, that his party will no longer accept any funds from the government through the PetroCaribe initiative.
Fonseca, who criticized the government for passing a Bill which by-passes the authority of the Public Accounts Committee and that does not require the government to specify how it is going to spend the money that it borrows from the PetroCaribe Fund, said he could not support the passage of the Bill into law.
But further to that, Fonseca said his party will reject any money the government allocates to the PUP for social (Christmas cheer, Mothers’ Day, Back to School) programs.
“We cannot and will not be a part of such criminality. In fact, Mr. Speaker, we go on record today to say that as of today, we will not be accepting a single dollar from the Petrocaribe Fund…whether for Mother’s Day, Christmas Cheer or any other cheer from those on the other side (of the aisle).
“The people of Belize do not trust them any more than they trust to leave their good clothes on the line in a yard with no fence and no dogs. … The parliament of Belize has to approve these Petrocaribe loans. Those on the other side Mr. Speaker, well know this, and that is why they are bringing this Bill to ram down our throats in one House meeting at this late hour.”
Fonseca went on to suggest that the government’s intention to rush the Bill through the House without getting appropriate approval must be for reasons yet unknown.
“If their motives and intentions…were sincere,.. . they would allow for House Committee meetings so that the unions and students and business community and others could weigh in on the issue.
We have yet to see any tendering procedures being followed for the contracting of the $126 million of Petrocaribe Funds that the government says it has spent so far. …We have yet to see… an audit on the $13 million the government says it has spent on so-called social support and community assistance…. We have yet to see on which property and equipment $7.1 million of the PetroCaribe money has been spent, and we have yet to see on which sporting facilities they spent $5 million, and whether we got value for money.”
Even though The People’s United Party (PUP) has, in the past, criticized the way the government had gone about using PetroCaribe money, the party had not taken such a hard line to reject PetroCaribe money from the government for social programs.
The Reporter tried to get some feedback as to where the PUP hopes to get money to assist the constituencies where the party holds seats for events like Christmas, Mothers’ Day etc, but received no response.