A meeting of the General Council of the National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB) took place last night in Belize City after the passage earlier this week of the Petrocaribe Loans Act, 2015, which passed by a slim six-to-five margin with an abstention by Senator representing the trade unions, Ray Davis. There is a concern that the unions were caught offguard by the presentation of the bill and following the meeting of the Union a briefing with Congress executives discussed the apparent disconnect between Senator Davis’ vote and the position of the Congress. But NTUCB members sought to correct those perceptions by issuing a strong public condemnation of what the Government seeks to do, which it has now been empowered to do by the Act – borrow and spend the funds coming from APBEL as part of the Petrocaribe program going back some two years. NTUCB President Marvin Mora said that the Government’s actions are completely contrary to the spirit of the passage of the Finance and Audit Act in 2005 and its reformed version in 2010.
“The position of the trade unions have always been clear in regards to transparency and accountability. The trade union has been championing accountability and transparency since long, long, long before PetroCaribe showed up. So it is no question, it should be no question in anybody’s mind where the trade union stands in regards to anything that has to do with accountability or transparency. As far as the monies of our country our country are concerned, whether they are borrowed or whether they are monies that are coming from our internal revenues.”
According to head of the Christian Workers’ Union and NTUCB second vice president Audrey Matura Shepherd, the Act legitimizes illegal activity on the part of the Government.
“He had already presented a position that was a no on a previous occasion. we were disappointed, as I said, we told him we were disappointed. No words were minced, the terms were very strong as to what he did and he has to take responsibility for what he did as we do. But like we said, this is not a situation where we have to spoon feed a senator. It’s not someone who just joined the union. This is someone with years of experience in unionism, a man who knows the structure of the N.T.U.C.B, a man who knows what’s transparency and accountability and anyone who reads this bill can clearly see that there is nothing transparent and accountable about making a law retrospective to try and validate and conform 2 1/2 years of illegal action that goes contrary to our constitution, that goes contrary to our finance and audit act even as it was reformed in 2010. So it’s like a no brainier, whatever happened, pontiff could do whatever they want, they can analyze it however they want, but it is in no way reflects the opinion of the N.T.U.C.B
The Union Congress continues to plan its response to the Act and was reluctant to share details with the press.