Opposition Leader has concerns about newly formed state-owned company

In his March 1st budget speech, Prime Minister, the Hon. Dean Barrow introduced a new outfit being formed under his Government; referred to as the Belize Infrastructure Limited (BIL). According to the Prime Minister,”BIL” will generate job employment and help relieve Belize’s economy. During last weeks’ budget debate, the Leader of the Opposition the Hon. Francis Fonseca, raised some concerns he had with the newly formed Belize Infrastructure Limited.

Francis Fonseca – Opposition Leader:  
vlcsnap-2013-03-25-21h04m17s142Let us together enshrine in the Constitution, Mr Speaker, that requirement.  Let us work together to set a fixed date for elections, and review the term of office of future Governments. People want it.  Let us put in place an elected Senate.  Let us review the structure and composition of the Election and Boundaries Commission. Let us review, Mr Speaker, the stock-sharing composition and powers of the Public Accounts Committee.  Let us pass, Mr Speaker, a Freedom of the Press Law, that guarantees free speech and protects whistle-blowers who expose abuse, acts of corruption, and waste of resources. Let us do these things together, Prime Minister.  Let us work together to appoint an independent commission to review Immigration policy and laws.
And Mr Speaker, it is time for Government to deliver the salary increase our teachers, nurses, doctors, Police Officers, BDF soldiers, and other public officers, have been demanding and deserve.

Fonseca also states that the articles of association raise questions of concern.

Francis Fonseca – Opposition Leader:
This brings me Mister Speaker back to BIL, Belize Infrastructure Company Limited, which the honorable member for Queen Square described in his budget presentation as a newly formed, newly registered, wholly government of Belize owned private company; the special purpose vehicle that will create jobs, stimulate demand, purchase private sector material and supplies and generally raise that tide that will float all Belizean boats. Now as I said earlier Mr. Speaker, it is fairly easy to dismiss this company as more hot air; consistent with five years of empty rhetoric. But I think to do so would be a mistake. We should all, all Belizeans, take note of BIL. I want to sound the alarm bells. I want to be the first to sound the alarm bells. I expect this to be a U.D.P. hustle vehicle that will seek to avoid the rules and regulations of government. Why Mister Speaker and the Social and Economic Partners we met with ask this question as well. Why is this private company necessary to carry out the work of government? Will this company be competing with the private sector? Who will it be purchasing materials and supplies from? Who will manage this company? Will the Contractor General and the Auditor General have oversight of this company? Mister Speaker these are important questions. Will it be subject to the finance and audit reform act? Mister Speaker, we must see the Belize Infrastructure Company Limited for what it is the latest in a long line of U.D.P. political gimmicks. And you know Mr. Speaker I took a look at the articles of association and memorandum of association of the company and you know the chairman of this company, I don’t know if he is still the Minister of Works or now he is just the chairman of Belize Infrastructure Company Limited. But he is the chairman of the board of directors, Honorable Rene Montero, director and chairman. Will you be running the Minister of Works or will you be responsible for this company? Why do we need a private sector company to carry out work that the Ministry of Works should be able to and can carry out? And they are injecting sixty million dollars, as we understand it, into this private company chaired by the Minister of Works. The co-chair is the honorable Herman Longsworth, the member for Albert; he’s the co chair.

It turns out though that not only the Leader of the Opposition has concerns about the newly formed state owned company. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s President Kay Menzies  sent a letter to the PM, expressing numerous economic concerns and presentation in the budget and questioning whether the Belize Infrastructure Limited, will replace the Ministry of Works and how it will stimulate job creation as was announced. As the Prime Minister stated, Government is expected to invest 60 million dollars into BIL.

About the Author