The much anticipated House Meeting where parliament is to vote on whether or not to pay that 90 million dollars to Belize Bank, as ordered by the CCJ, was to be held on February 16. However, the Government of Belize says it is waiting on advice from its lawyers to see if they will progress with that scheduled house meeting. In November of last year, GOB lost another battle to the Ashcroft Alliance when the Caribbean Court of Justice ruled that Government of Belize needs to pay Belize Bank for its loan of 35 million dollars for Universal Health Services. GOB had declared it would not honor the sovereign guarantee for a private debt. With interest, the CCJ said GOB should now pay 90 million. However, according to PM Barrow, parliament has to vote on whether to pay that judgment and if parliament votes “no”, then the Belize Bank just simply cannot be paid. According to PM Barrow, the Belize Bank has since filed an application for an enforced order which is to be heard on March 14th.
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow – Prime Minister
“The Ashcroft Alliance, the Belize Bank they’ve filed an application for an enforcement order. The hearing of that has now been fixed for March 14th. The Government also filed two applications; one concerning the matter of post-judgment interest – it is our contention that as of the date of the C.C.J. decision favoring the Bank, interest ought to have stopped running at seventeen percent and ought instead to have run at the statutory rate of six percent. That’s as well before the C.C.J. and is to be heard at the same time as the Bank’s application. The government also filed two applications. In that same application the government is saying in any event how can the bank ask for an enforcement order and an order of mandamus against the Minister of Finance when it is quite clear that our constitutional arrangements as well as the provisions of the finance and audit act pro-scribe, prevent any kind of payment or a judgement debt that is not already provided for by way of the annual Appropriations Act; prevent payment except parliament votes the money.”
As we said, the PM says he is waiting on legal advice to determine if parliament should still proceed with voting on February 16th since the court hearing is scheduled for March 14th. As soon as the lawyers’ recommendations have been discussed, the public will be informed as to the next step.