Reeling from the Saldivar scandal, PM Barrow has unleashed on the leader of the Opposition in a lengthy and stinging letter, calling John Briceño and the P.U.P. the most outrageous hypocrites and frauds ever known in modern politics and the governance of our country. At the core of Barrow’s anger is Briceño’s letter on the recent ruling about by the Supreme Court in which the PM was found to have acted unconstitutional, as well as other issues.

On the matter of supplementary appropriations, which was a case taken to court, Barrow says the supplementary appropriations were fully debated and overwhelmingly approved by parliament during the P.U.P. Administration. According to Barrow, all U.D.P. and P.U.P.-sponsored supplementary appropriations were done at a time when both parties were certain that the Constitution expressly permitted prior spending and subsequent Parliamentary approval. Barrow also rants about the PetroCaribe issue raised by Briceño, saying it drives a further nail in the coffin of Briceño’s disingenuousness.

Barrow recalls that when the U.D.P. passed the PetroCaribe Loans Act, he sought leave so that the amount being borrowed on a continuous basis under the Venezuela programme could never be known beforehand, and so could not command prior approval. The PM says that he also kept the House updated on what was spent. Barrow states, “As I went through your letter and its tissue of transparent innuendos and falsehoods, its whited sepulcher nature, I was especially struck by something. And it is the unfathomable effrontery and gall of your sending your jeremiad to the International Financial Institutions.”

Barrow says that because of the P.U.P.’s serial misdeeds and utter lack of transparency and accountability regarding World Bank funds, it was his administration that restored lending with the bank. As to the court ruling, the PM states that his government considers the Chief Justice’s ruling entirely unsatisfactory and says it will be appealed even though government’s attorneys admitted the spending was unconstitutional.

In respect of the six-month suspension of his injunction, he says the government won’t be seeking any Constitutional amendment any time soon so any conditions for support, is a charade so that Briceño is on a fool’s errand. Barrow ends by taking on the issue of contracts saying they went to the Solicitor General.

Channel 5

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Letter from PM Barrow to the Leader of the Opposition

Office of the Prime Minister
Belmopan, Belize, Central America
February 17, 2020
Hon. John Briceño
Leader of the Opposition
BELIZE

Dear Sir,

Your letter to me of February 14th, 2020, is additional confirmation of what all right thinking Belizeans already know: you and your Party are the most outrageous hypocrites and frauds ever known in the modern politics and governance of our country.

One of the principal points in your screed of a letter, is the unbelievably self-righteous rant about the so-called illegality of Supplementary Appropriations. I point out that all Supplementary Appropriations were fully debated and overwhelmingly approved by Parliament during my tenure as Minister of Finance. Your pretend anger in this regard is a nauseating example of the patent and knowing falsity of your position. The history of Supplementary Appropriations started under our Independence Constitution with the People’s United Party. And, as was admitted in the recent court case before the Chief Justice, four of the Supplementary Appropriations passed in Parliament during this current UDP period, were to approve prior spending done by your PUP Administration. Your Party never objected to these or indeed any of the other Supplementary Appropriations that you after challenged in court.

Of course, all UDP and PUP-sponsored Supplementary Appropriations were done at a time when both Parties were certain that the Constitution of Belize expressly permitted prior spending and subsequent Parliamentary approval. This, for us and several others in similar Caricom jurisdictions, was a matter of the exigencies of the public service and financial administration. For you to suddenly get religion and inveigh against what both the UDP and the PUP thought not only permissible but indispensable, is a most flagrant case of two-faced posturing and naked dishonesty.

Your ravings regarding PetroCaribe spending in particular, only drive a further nail in the coffin of your disingenuousness. After the UDP passed the PetroCaribe Loans Act, I personally explained to the House and sought leave to pursue the only practicable course of action. The amount being borrowed on a continuous basis under the Venezuela program could never be known beforehand, and so could not command prior approval. So I promised the House and the nation that whatever came in and was spent between House meetings would be subsequently accurately and meticulously put to the House. It would be done in a way that detailed every single PetroCaribe project and their budgetary allocations.

As the records make unarguably clear, I kept that promise.

As I went through your letter and its tissue of transparent innuendos and falsehoods, its whited sepulcher nature, I was especially struck by something. And it is the unfathomable effrontery and gall of your sending your jeremiad to the International Financial Institutions. After all, it is a shameful historical fact that the World Bank had by 2007 officially terminated all lending, cut off all cooperation with Belize under your People’s United Party. This happened, the Bank made clear, because of the PUP’s serial misdeeds and utter lack of transparency and accountability regarding WB funds. It was left to my Administration and its good faith performance to restore the lending program with the World Bank. That program is even now continuing and only a couple of months ago two new projects were approved for financing.

For the avoidance of any doubt I make the following clear to you. My Administration considers the Chief Justice’s ruling entirely unsatisfactory, not least because there is as yet no reasoned, written judgement produced. We intend to appeal and seek a stay and there is in any event the Chief Justice’s own 6 month suspension of his injunction. We therefore have no intention of seeking any Constitutional amendment any time soon. It therefore follows that your attempt to lay down conditions for any cooperation you might consider giving the UDP, is merely another empty charade. If you actually meant to be taken seriously, I tell you now that-no doubt fittingly-you are on a fool’s errand.

A final instance of your perverse contentiousness is your tilting at windmills regarding the period when there was no Contractor-General. Even though GOB advertised and advertised there was for too long no suitable applicant. The post has only now been filled yet you quarrel about the non-submission of contracts to a Contractor-General when clearly it was impossible to do otherwise. However, as you well know, every contract that could not go to the Contractor-General while the office was vacant, was instead submitted by my Administration to the Solicitor-General. We only proceeded thereafter upon the SolGen’s certification of compliance with the legal requirements. And before there arose the extended vacancy in the Contractor-General’s office we strictly adhered to the law. All contracts in excess of 5 million dollars went to the sitting Contractor-General. These were thereafter detailed in the annual reports he laid before Parliament for knowledge of Members and the public. I end, therefore, by saying that the demands you as well make in this regard again are specious. Accordingly, I utterly reject them.

Sincerely,
RIGHT HON. DEAN O. BARROW
Prime Minister