Activity continues in the South off Punta Gorda in the hunt for petroleum despite the injunction granted by Justice Oswell Legall last month. Today Minister for Fisheries Lisel Alamilla told us the next move of Providence Energy, which has a block in the Port Honduras Marine Reserve.
Lisel Alamilla – Minister for Fisheries:
They have indicated interest for terms of reference for a EIA. I don’t know beyond that where that process stands, whether the EIA terms of reference has been sent to them already. I just know that they did indicate to the Department of the Environment that they wanted a terms of reference so that they can start their EIA process.
Today Audrey Matura Shepherd commented on this and other issues regarding these contracts and their enforcement. She stated that Belizeans must be vigilant, as it is clear that Government is leaving the matter to the foreign interests who control these territories.
Audrey Matura Shepherd:
It’s interesting what has happened. We brought the case against the Government. They didn’t want to be interested parties. They knew about the case. The decision was about the Government’s Modus Operandi and how they went about entering into these contracts. the court said “We declare unlawful.” But a declaration is not a mechanism that just then says by itself it means that you have to enforce it. It simply means that you need to do something else than enforce it. So what the court did, not to leave us in limbo, was to put in place an enforcement mechanism which was the injunction, which is to say to Government not only have I told you those contracts unlawful, null and void, but I’m telling you, you can’t move a finger to do anything to carry out that contract. So then the Governments responsibility would have been to notify all the contracting parties, which would be Princess, and Princess would have to notify Treaty, that we cannot go ahead, because the persons through whom we are acting, which is the Government, of who’s behalf we have gotten the permission to proceed, has been injuncted.
We have a Government, which should be a law-abiding Government, a Government that should operate within the rule of law, and it is that Government that would then have to police. But if you give a statement saying that it is the concession holders who will decide how they proceed next, what you’ve done is relinquish your responsibility as the Government of this country,and handed it over to a set of companies which the law has said don’t even qualify under the law to even have a contract. It’s a really serious situation and i wouldn’t like Belizeans to take it lightly. You have to look at what the message is that your Government is sending to these people, and that would be like a rouge decision to do that. But until they violate, we will not move the bar.