The Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) categorizes that there has been a conflict of interest when “a public official has private capacity interests which could improperly influence the performance of their official duties and responsibilities.” Serving in public office and the public service comes with many responsibilities and obligations. Integrity for one; the proper use of funds, resources, powers and assets for official purposes has been utterly lost if it ever existed in the decayed conscience of this depraved bunch.
Time and again Belizeans have been witness to the recklessness and impunity with which current government and public officials act. This latest installment in the Sanctuary Bay Saga is just more evidence of what can happen when you have narcissistic leaders at the helm. It is not difficult to recognize the clear conflict of interest that exists when Senator Aldo Salazar was and continues to be the attorney for AIBL. His very personal and private interests are unquestionably at odds with his public office. The Senator surely comprehends this as a member of the legal profession and it is anyone’s guess as to why he has not buckled under the weight of the public shame and humiliation and voluntarily resigned from the Upper House.
The recent disappearance of Dr. Figueroa from the MOH gives a glimmer of hope that at least some hold the value of integrity in higher regard than financial rewards. It is the appointment of the new CEO that again gives Belizeans pause. The new CEO is a practicing physician who owns a medical facility. We cannot be sure that he will put his own personal interests above that of the publics’. It seems that there is a revolving door at the MOH and those that do not conform to the modus operandi are not likely to be allowed to remain. It is very likely that they have finally found, in the newly appointed CEO, a person that fits the bill.
Conflicts of interest prelude corruption. The story of how Gapi Vega used his public power to favour his son Andre Vega caused the defrauding of the public purse to the tune of four hundred thousand dollars is just one of many instances. There have been many instances of alleged abuse of power and misuse of public office in this current GOB. Long have there been rumours that officials and their spouses at the MOH are silent partners in a pharmaceuticals company that is a provider to the public health system. It is the same story behind the way in which infrastructure projects are awarded to a select few. These conflicts of interest are evident in the way in which members of the FIU are switched and interchanged with the Central Bank. These errors are what allowed scammers to circumvent the procedures and protocols that prevent fraud and money laundering. Another example of the interrelationship is Anwar Borrow, who has been CEO of BTL and was also on the SSB who owns quite a bit of shares in BTL. And let’s not forget Net Vasquez who is the Chairman of BTL and Chairman of the Investment Committee of the SSB (who have shares in SSB bought while he was Chairman of both organizations).
It is quite a shame really. The PM who once boasted about his three-term stint in power has since mellowed. He is quite the toothless tiger these days, and growls only when cornered. He does not have much to boast about these days and he seems to have gone nose-blind because the “whiff of corruption” no matter how nefarious no longer bothers him. He will go down in the history annals of Belize as he wished. History will chronicle the infamy, corruption and dishonor with which he and his bunch of merry bandits served only themselves while in government. That finally will be the Red Devil’s only legacy, to be remembered in perpetuity as the PM who buried Belize in despair, debt and dishonor.