PUP Belize City Mayor Bernard Wagner has been in office for less than a month and already he is being accused of corruption? The accusations came after it was learned that Mayor Wagner wrote checks on the city council’s account to himself to distribute as social assistance. Today, the Mayor spoke to the press on the issue of the $500 check.
Belize City Mayor Bernard Wagner
There do exist a social assistance program at the council where we do try to help the neediest of our residence in the city and in respect secondly, I want to say in no point in time contrary to what the news has disclosed that I signed two cheque. Essentially what happened there was that two checks was issued to me I endorse the cheque obviously cause it was issued to me and I was then given the cash on the 28th of March and April 4th totaling $500 dollars to serve as a fund to assist people and on those given days that are residents of the city . People come here for all types of services people come in here to request for jobs, they would want to know about their property taxes, trade license and within those meetings you will discover people who have a basic need a need of $5 or $10 and have not ate for the day and I think as a caring council and a caring mayor dispersing 10$ or15$ to the most neediest people in the city I feel comforted transactioning that type of business clearly have seem to have been done. I did it essentially in the fact of my good integrity that clearly did not rub well with some people they want more than just my integrity they want to ensure that they have cheques and balances in place so that we are kept in check and clearly I have no issue with that I respect that position.
The United Democratic Party fired off a press release saying,
“The UDP condemns this corrupt practice in the strongest possible terms and reminds the Mayor that the Belize City Council already has a budget and transparent procedures for the issuance of social assistance funds, so there is absolutely no need for him to write cheques to himself. His justification was unsatisfactory, and his actions, illegal.” Mayor Bradley says he now knows better and will ensure a better system going forward.
Belize City Mayor Bernard Wagner
We will change the way we operate obviously I was given the way it was done this morning a bit too late and clearly that is an indicator again of how people are operating ,our staff are operating within the scope of the council and where there is this constant grind out type of war and fight in between trying to work along with people who clearly does not share in your manifesto and does not share in your mandate but I respect the fact that we were able to stop given that it was brought to our attention that this is not the way we want to . It is clearly an acceptance that the fact is that I did not do it any under hand way it was clearly an upfront transaction .Actually I have the entire process to give to the clerk all the trans actions I did for the day with the people’s name ,phone numbers, needs and reason for the visit and I would forward that to the finance department but clearly that mechanism is clearly not a mechanism that works in the public service they want the individuals to sign the voucher and clearly that’s understandable but no under hand deal my name integrity and my council’s name and integrity means so much to us.
Meanwhile, the United Democratic Party says it is, and we quote, “consulting its attorneys for legal advice, as we believe that this gross display of unapologetic misappropriation is utterly worrisome.” End quote.