The Commission will Go Back Two Years
Last night, we told you that Prime Minister John Briceno has given the green light for the formation of a Commission of Inquiry. The Commissioners are tasked to investigate the sale of government assets by the Barrow Administration between the period of October 2019 to November 2020, their last month in office.
It's a follow-up to agitation by the Public Service Union. The Union said that they were receiving persistent reports that the outgoing administration was having a self regulated firesafe on government assets.
The 3-member Commission is led by Chairman, E. Andrew Marshalleck; the PSU's representative, Luke Martinez; and the representative from the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Marcello Blake.
Today, we got a chance to briefly speak with Chairman Marshalleck about what will happen during this inquiry, and how they will go about investigating if Government assets were sold off at "obscenely low prices", as the PSU described the situation. Here's what he had to say about the very early stages of the Commission:
Andrew Marshalleck, SC - Chairman, Commission of Inquiry
"Well, there's a Commission of Inquiries Act which empowers the Prime Minister to constitute a Commission of Inquiries to look into matters which he considers appropriate. He has obviously decided, based on the many allegations that have swirled, that a Commission of Inquiry is required to look into the sale of government assets in 2 years leading up to the change of Government."
"Sir, have you had any conversations with the Prime Minister and the OPM on this particular topic as yet?"
Andrew Marshalleck, SC
"No, except to agree to serve as Chairman and to pursue the investigations."
"Nothing has happened yet insofar as the Commission is concerned. I understand - based on the law that it needs to be published in the Gazette, and oaths need to be taken by the Commissioners. And once that's done, then, the Commission can start its work."
"The way that Commissions of Inquiries generally work is that they are empowered to summon and examine witnesses, require the production of documents so that the process starts there."
Yesterday's GOB announcement said that the Prime Minister has directed that the meetings be held in public. Dates and venues will be published.