The Frightening Revelations Erupting from the ‘Ministry of Works’

The Ministry of Works was also known as a hotbed of corruption under former U.D.P. minister Rene Montero.  Like the Lands Department in Belmopan, the Ministry of Works office in San Ignacio has been closed down until the new government has had a chance to carefully peruse each and every document and piece of equipment. In fact, last week allegations of massive corruption and abuse within the department erupted. Pieces of heavy duty equipment were found at a property belonging to Montero. Minister of Infrastructure Development and Housing Julius Espat says that what he is uncovering at the Ministry of Works and the Ministry of Housing is scary.

Julius Espat, Minister of Infrastructure Development and Housing

“We have been looking at personnel. We have been looking at the status of equipment and where we are. It is frightening to learn what we are learning. So we have a lot of work ahead.”

Reporter

“You’ve met with I would says those in the Ministry of Works and so?”

Julius Espat

“We have not been able to meet personally, but we have been in communication with the Chief Engineer, the engineers that are under him. I have been in communications with some of the personnel from the Ministry of Housing and I have requested some reports from them which they have forward. I have been getting very good cooperation from the professionals and they have not been hiding the facts which is a good thing.”

Reporter

“So when you say it is frightening, are we talking about construction, public works, are we talking about the contracts that we were issued out?”

Julius Espat

“Well, we have not even gotten to the contracts. For example  the report we got from the ministry of housing is that they have not been doing anything for the last ten to eleven years and it is in the letter that they sent us., that they are in chaos. They are totally disorganized and nothing have been achieved. And that has been put in writing. I didn’t expect it so fast. Right now we have instructed the Chief Engineer that the accounts department at the Ministry of Works needs to be locked down. It has already been locked down. We have also given instruction to the police that no equipment nor no files will be taken out from the ministry until we get in. that is just the first phase until we do an in-depth analysis. We will find out where they are and where they are located. There was abuse. I will go to the level that there was theft and if there was theft we will find the person who is responsible and that person will have to follow the law.”

We also spoke to Deputy Prime Minister Cordel Hyde.  He is responsible for the Ministry of Natural Resources, Petroleum and Mining.  Hyde has been tasked in cleaning up the mess at the Department of Lands, labeled as a hotbed of corruption by former Prime Minister Dean Barrow.  Hyde speaks of changing the culture of corruption in the Lands Department and rooting out the hustling from top to bottom.

Hipolito Novelo

“You are talking about changing the culture of corruption in the Lands Department. It is going to be very difficult.”

Cordel Hyde, Deputy Prime Minister

“But we are going to have to though. That is what the people voted for. We can’t five years from now go to back to the people and tell them that we couldn’t fix that and the corruption continues. It can’t be. They voted for something different.”

Hipolito Novelo

“Corruption from top to bottom in the Lands Department.”

Cordel Hyde

“Corruption from top to bottom in the entire country.”

Hipolito Novelo

“Will the Lands Commissioner be let go?”

Cordel Hyde

“We going to have to look critically at the Lands Department. We are going to have to look critical at all the personnel. We are going to have to look critically at the last few weeks and months because we are going to have to do for what is right for the people of Belize. That is my commitment. That is what we are going to do moving forward.”

Hipolito Novelo

“Will the legal counsel, Mister Usher be let go, replaced?”

Cordel Hyde

“I was just warning just now. I have not even looked critically at what is all there. I don’t even know what is all there. I will find that out tomorrow when I go there.”

Hipolito Novelo

“You receive any reports that any document have been missing at the Lands Department?”

Cordel Hyde

“We heard that so the Prime Minister moved swiftly Thursday morning t try to lock down things and slow down things a bit. I am hoping that decent people do the right thing. I am hoping that where there are indecent people that decent people point out the wrong things. I am hoping that we can arrest that kind of crazy behavior.”

Channel 5