Earlier this week the leader of the Opposition Francis Fonseca announced that they will be accepting the Petro Caribe sponsored Christmas cheer. Mr Fonseca explained to reporters on Saturday the PUP’s rationale behind accepting the monies for Christmas cheer program, which he said is better administered in terms of handling.
At the same time the Government did a little gloating calling the PUP’s stance one of hypocrisy.
In Thursday’s newscast, you heard some of the concerns of our viewers, most of who believed the opposition should not accept the Christmas cheer monies.
On Friday, Julius Espat, Area representative for Cayo South, and the one who has been at the forefront of the issue, announced that he is not accepting the Christmas Cheer program despite the party’s decision to accept it.
Julius Espat- PUP Cayo South Area Representative
“This is something that has been bothering me for some time. You have to understand that as an elected Area Representative you have responsibilities that go beyond what you would want to decide on a personal basis. So I had to weigh on one side the needs of the people, and on the other side the principle on why I believe it is wrong.
So what I did, I consulted with my local leaders in all the villages. I consulted with my local executive, Cayo South executive. I consulted with friends and family.
At the end of the day, a decision was made to not accept it.”
According to Julius Espat, he sought the approval of the Party Leader on this matter, which he got.
“He has some points of view that were not exactly mine, and I had some that were not exactly his. But in the end he agreed that it is not a policy making decision. It is a decision based on an Area Rep.
It was a decision, in my case, a little bit more, because apart from an Area Rep I am the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, and I have been the one has been on the fore front with this fight against the illegal use of this money, in my opinion.
So a decision was made, and we decided not to take.”
While there will be no PetroCaribe sponsored Christmas cheer program for the residents of Cayo South, Julius Espat says his constituency will not suffer due to his decision not to accept the money.
“The concept that we are depriving them could be there, and that’s why before I made a decision I made sure that we could finance separately.
It is enough and it will cover exacttly what we were supposed to have been doing, because we have gotten some contributions in kind, with products. We have gotten some contributions in cash, and we’re still having pledges coming in.
We account to all the people that help us and how we do it. We document it. We have an internal file that documents everything that we do, So the people that help us understand that the money goes directly to the people.
Every year we do toys for the kids. We do some festive activities depending on the villages. Sometiomes we do some hampers where [people] really need it We try to do some scholarships at the same time, because I really don’t believe in this give-away. So we try to find things that we can do to help.”
We attempted to contact the CEO in the Ministry of Human Development to verify Julius Espat’s claims and to find out if any other Area Representative in the Opposition had refused to take the Christmas cheer. However were told that the CEO was in a meeting.