Belize PM hits back at opposition leader regarding PetroCaribe spending

Belize PM Dean Barrow has dismissed claims made by the opposition leader.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow has brushed aside a call by Belize’s main opposition People’s United Party (PUP) for a Commission of Inquiry after the High Court ruled earlier this month that more than BDZ$1.5 billion had been illegally spent with respect to the PetroCaribe funds.

PetroCaribe is an energy cooperation agreement initiated by Venezuela offering countries oil supplies based on a concessionary financial agreement.

“You (Briceño) and your party are the most outrageous hypocrites and frauds.”

— Dean Barrow

In a four-page letter sent to Barrow last Friday, Opposition and PUP Leader, John Briceño, noted that the Chief Justice found that the Prime Minister, who is also the Minister of Finance, was in breach of the Finance and Audit Reform of Act when he did not get the required parliamentary approval for the expenditure of the funds.

The court also ordered a constitutional amendment to correct the matter. The government would require the support of the opposition in amending the Constitution since a special majority is required to do so.

Challenged in court

In his response, Barrow said Briceño’s letter “is additional confirmation of what all right-thinking Belizeans already know (that) you and your party are the most outrageous hypocrites and frauds ever known in the modern politics and governance of our country.”

He reminded the Opposition Leader that during the court hearings, it was disclosed that four of the Supplementary Appropriations passed in Parliament during the period of this current administration “were to approve prior spending by your PUP administration.

“Your party never objected to these or indeed any of the other Supplementary Appropriations that you …challenged in court,” Barrow wrote.

He said both his administration and the PUP government had sponsored Supplementary Appropriations “at a time when both parties were certain that the Constitution of Belize expressly permitted prior spending and subsequent Parliamentary approval.

“This, for us, and several others in similar CARICOM jurisdictions, was a matter of the exigencies of the public service and financial administration. For you to suddenly get religion and inveigh against what both the UDP (United Democratic Party) and the PUP thought not only permissible but indispensable, is a most flagrant cause of two-faced posturing and naked dishonesty”.