On October 29th Julius Espat, Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee and PUP Area Representative filed a lawsuit against the Government as it relates to the process of borrowing and spending Petro Caribe sponsored monies. In turn the Prime Minister lashed out at the People’s United Party for being the only opposition in the region to oppose the Petro Caribe Program sponsored by the oil rich country of Venezuela. Julius Espat and Senior Attorney Andrew Marshaleck, who are part of the team heading the legal challenge against the Government, were on this morning’s Rise and Shine show. According to Marsheleck, the purpose of filing a law suit was not to oppose the Petro Caribe program as the those in Government would like the public to believe but rather to debate the of the process of acquiring and spending the monies. He explained his point.
Andrew Marshalek – Attorney
“From the moment the law suit was filed , I mean literally by the Friday, there was an add on T.V. rolling with a song about Petricaribe Roll it. It immediately demonstrates the importance of having access to these monies to the Government and the absolute need to preserve it. The legislation now tables that even in its broad and some would say ugly terms…. is again just a reflection of the political imperative to keep these funds rolling. It has to roll. We’re goingf into a general elections and like it or not, this is what they intend to roll over the electorate on the back up. So it must be preserve. “
Louis Wade – Host, Rise & Shine “So you went to court and he went to the public with a song.”
“Yes. Now to suggest that the court action had to do with stopping development and that was the theme of it.
Carlos Santos- Co-host, Rise & Shine
“The court action is what?
“The court action is to establish what was done was in accordance to the Finance and Audit Reforms Act and if not, to restrain it from continuing.” The guests also discussed the argument that the monies are still being accounted for even though they are in a special account at the Central bank of Belize.
“The reason why it goes into public funds is that public funds are subjected to the controller of the account, the accountant general, subject to the audit of the auditor general, amount other things. So when you take it and whisk away all these funds outside into some other account. What you are doing is taking it out of the pervious scrutiny of the public officials.”
” I saw that comment and the answer to that is simple. Where is it in the law. He says,’ when I need the money, I take it from this special account and put it in the consulate revenue funds. So then, all the accountability then flows is in place. Where does it say he has to do that. We are suppose to trust him to do that?” Another issue discussed as it pertains to the Petro Caribe is the retrospectiveness of the law recent rammed through the house and the Senate.
“It says the act must take effect retrospectively to 1September 2012. The idea as if this act had been past on the 1st September 2012. There is a reason for that. Now I doubt very much that this act will be effective to achieve that result. What it demonstrates is a belief that it can be done. So we are looking at the laws that govern the county, whatever they are; you can behave however you want, whenever you want. And then simply pass a law, before you leave government that says,’you know all of that, didn’t apply.”
Hon. Julius Espat
“So what Dean Barrow does now, he pass a law because his legal advisor, who is his brother, took a look at this submission and said, ‘boss, we cant win this thing. So the only way out ah this now dah pass a law, so that you stop them permanently from doing anything else that pertains to this.’ That is a clear comparison how the People’s United Party, under Said Musa worked and he took beating for it, and the people of Belize need to analyze now how the Prime Minister is operating. “
On March 13th the legal team presented their disclosure of evidence to the courts, two weeks before the new law was passed allowing Government the freedom to spend Petro Caribe monies without having to go to the House for approval.