Last week Thursday, we told you about the Statutory Instrument: National Lands (Mode of Payment) Regulations 2020.
That's the SI which the Briceno Government passed on December 4th. It forces all persons trying to purchase a piece of government land to make payment at the cashier at the Lands Department. It effectively put a stop to the payment avenue of making a deposit into the Ministry's bank account.
Deputy Prime Minister Cordel Hyde told us that this was done so that he and his team could investigate any last-minute hustling at the Lands Department before the PUP won the general election. But, political observers were speculating that the blocking of electronic payment was actually done so that the new government could prevent would-be landowners from finalizing any land transactions they entered into with the outgoing Barrow government. It was suggested to us that this plan could backfire on the Briceno Government, since some of the first-time landowners accepted the land deal from UDP Government, only to turn around and vote for the PUP. Well, one such case appears to have surfaced.
We've received a copy of a lawyer letter from attorney Orson OJ Elrington, which he sent to Wilbert Vallejos, the Commissioner of Lands, the new CEO, and the New Minister in charge of Lands.
The letter, dated December 16th, 2020, says, quote, "We are instructed that your department approved (via a letter dated September 23rd, 2020) our client's application to purchase the property. We are further instructed that the Government of Belize has, since the date of the letter, made it impossible for our client to comply with the terms of the agreement for the purchase by refusing to accept payment (as stipulated in the approval letter) at its cashiers in the Ministry of Natural Resources, and through the enforcement of a statutory instrument, which makes it impossible to pay at the commercial banks.
We consider the actions of the Government as an unlawful, naked attempt to prevent our client from consummating the transaction by making it impossible to abide by the terms of the Government's own approval. If the Government does not accept our client's payment within Fourteen days to correct its unlawful position, we will be forced to take legal action."
We have also seen concerns from other would-be first-time landowners who are facing a similar difficulty in completing their land purchase because of the payment blockade.Channel 7