Elements of the opposition to the Petrocaribe Loan Act 2015 are prepared to take their frustration to the streets, a favorite tactic of dissent. The complaint is that the Act, which concerns some $286 million borrowed by the Dean Barrow administration since 2012, effectively legitimizes acts seen as controverting the Finance and Audit (Reform) Act of 2005 and its amended form of 2010. PUP leader Francis Fonseca says his party has taken a leading role in exposing the evils of the Act and the intentions of its creators.
“We have lead the way on this PetroCaribe Issue. We have a claim in the Supreme Court of Belize filed by our Deputy Party Leader, Julius Espat, challenging the entire program and the way it is being implemented and executed by this UDP government. The PetroCaribe act that was passed.. we were the first ones. On the day the law was tabled, I was the first to get up and object to that law even being introduced. I described it as an absolute disgrace to introduce this law which was taking us back to pre 2005 in our view, as it relates to PetriCaribe funding. We then objected very strenuously to the passage of the act in the time it was passed on a late Friday evening.”
Fonseca says the party has been consulting with social partners and others and is now giving the Barrow administration one last chance to see the error of its ways. If the Act is not withdrawn in 21 days, says Fonseca, there will be street action.
Hon. Francis Fonseca
“We have drafted a letter which we are sending to the Prime Minister of Belize. Which our objective is to have all of these partners, even if it’s the third parties, if they want to join in – to be signatories to this letter, demanding that this PetroCaribe act be repealed and if is not repealed within 21 days of that letter, then we will have to mobilize and take to the streets and get the support of the Belizean people on this issue. Because we believe it is a fundamentally important issue, that goes to the heart of governance and goes to the heart of democracy.”
Fonseca waved off suggestions that the PUP, to have moral authority to lead such a demonstration, must be prepared to contend with its own version of the Act which has no report of the $40 million reported to be spent.
“Those are never brought to the House. The unions says it’s 41 million. The financial secretary says it 21 million US. I am saying that those receipts from PetroCaribe under PUP – I don’t know what they are. They have never been reported, because of the same problematic nature of this arrangement that is not a loan, it’s a diplomatic arrangement.”
Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the Opposition
“No. It is a loan agreement. You want to choose to focus on 2005. I and the Belizean people want to focus on what is happening now 7 years after the UDP government has been elected. They want to focus on that. if that was the case, the UDP government should have corrected it long ago. This is where we are not. The overwhelming sentiment of the Belizean people maybe good for Mr. Barrow but it is bad for Belize. It is bad for governance. It takes us back to pre 2005. It is a betrayal of the very people who marched along with the people of 2005 for a Finance and Audit Act. It is a betrayal of their trust and confidence that they placed in this Barrow Administration. “
Deputy Party Leader Julius Espat commented on the ongoing case filed in Supreme Court over the original Petrocaribe reports which has now been amended to bring in the Act.That case goes back to court in May.
“The claim is still in place. we are making adjustments to the claim as we speak. Yes we will continue with it and we are preparing those statements as we speak. In Answer to your question, YES!”