He is expected to address it further at Wednesday’s press conference but on the heels of the announcement by the Leader of the Opposition this morning Prime Minister Dean Barrow said not only no, but hell no to the prospect of any repeal of the Petrocaribe Loan Act, 2015. He explains why.
I can say from now, that there is not a chance in hell that there will be any repeal of the PetroCaribe loans act.”
“Even if the social partners and the Opposition galvanized?”
Hon. Dean Barrow
“In my view the bi-election in January and the municipal elections in March constituted a kind of referendum on PetroCaribe and as far as I recollect we won those referendums resoundingly. We not only have now a fairly decisive majority in the house but we are buoyed, some people will say powered, by the verdict of the people in relation to our PetroCaribe and governance generally. In no circumstance there can and will be no turning back.”
The Prime Minister insists that the Opposition is looking out for its own political interests, which he understands but does not condone; those other opponents to the Act are misguided as to its intentions. As for suggestions that he is trying to avoid criminal penalties contained in the Act, the P.M. suggested that criminal action of a different kind could result from that.
Hon. Dean Barrow
“Man, that is so outrageous, I won’t bother to dignify it with a response except, if he pursues that line, I might have to sue him for deformation of character. It is such an outrageous accusation to make that. I don’t think I will follow that line. Not a soul in his or her right mind may buy that. This was an arrangement, part of a bilateral and regional trading arraignment. We went to the house. Since there is now a concession that it did constitute a lone of a peculiar nature, you might fault us for going to the house late. You were the person who calls all of them to get … you know because recollect that before that, various entities – and I say this not to quarrel were very much complacent in PetroCaribe spending, in helping to supervise PetroCaribe programs in using the National Bank for a line of credit, for access to mortgage financing. No Nobody at that time was arguing that this was a loan.”
The P.M. continues to insist that the Act was needed not only to cover retrospective activity but to look ahead to the actual repayment of the borrowed funds.
Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
What are you going to do now when in deed we can pay for the oil by way of sugar or citrus? How are you going to fit into the Finance and Audit Act if we hadn’t change the law? It just could not work To me, what needs to be concentrated on is whether there is proper accounting for the spending of the money, where it can be seen that the spending of good, helpful developmental purposes… for social process. That is the crux of the matter. that is the core of the issue. There is nobody that can say to me that we are doing precisely that. Spending properly, accounting for what we are spending and in fact assisting with this tremendous social uplift in so far as the Belizean people are concerned. We are not goint to turn back.”
P.M. Barrow welcomed any audit of the spending by the Auditor General’s office.