Thanksgiving weekend is here. For many in Belize and elsewhere a time for getting together, for family, for reflection, for appreciation of life’s many abundant blessings. It is a happy time that marks the beginning of the Christmas season and festivities. No doubt on the tables of many, who can afford these luxuries, there will be imported spirits, hams and turkeys to match this imported holiday. Others in the Jewel will make do with turkey flavor ramen noodles and haad time biscuit if they are lucky. This week we had a glimpse of what might be on the Red Devil’s table this Thanksgiving. We believe that he will be serving duck…lame duck that is, served up on a platter and with all the trimmings.
The Lame duck Financial Secretary is being carefully prepared, basted and slow cooked to perfection. How he came to be on the menu is anyone’s guess, but at the Belize Times we believe that he has outlived his usefulness and is now being offered up to appease the masses. The Auditor General has found that in the fiscal year 2012/2013 there was no special warrant for the use of some 100M dollars taken out of the consolidated funds of GOB. In the following year 2013/2014 that figure doubled to 200M used without the permission of the National Assembly or even a Special Warrant. The poor lame duck would want Belizeans to understand that it was merely “slippage.” It totally slipped his mind to do his job for over seven years. He has tried to use every excuse in the book to squirm his way out of this tight spot. He even went on to say that it was the infrequency under which the House of Representatives meet that did not allow for the special warrants to be issued or the supplementary budgets to be tabled.
One can only remember the many bills passed in one House Sitting when the special needs arose. Why even bills to have the debts of special people written off were tabled. Finally having been cornered, he had to admit that there was no contingency fund and that funds were taken from the consolidated fund, that limits set by Belizean Law under the Finance and Audit Act were exceeded on a regular basis. It was revealed that even though he was advised against it, the Prime Minister with full knowledge that he did not have the approval of the National Assembly, willfully spent 1.3 billion from the consolidated fund contravening the Constitution. Additionally 600 million from Petro Caribe Funds were also spent with no accountability to Parliament.
The Party Leader Hon. John Briceño and the PUP have full confidence that the Court will rule in the favour of Belizeans that it is unconstitutional for The Red Devil and his Cabinet to have spent 1.3B without approval of Parliament. This is a precedent setting case where even future government officials will know that they will be held to account. That the Belizean Law and the Constitution must be upheld and that violations will have consequences to the full extent the law allows.
The PUP has published their Good Governance Agenda and are implementing it now because it is through transparency and accountability that confidence in Belize both local and international will be restored. Thanks to this GOB we suffer any number of black eyes that have hurt the economy, the banking sector and opportunities for foreign investment. Thanks to The Red Devil and his bandits, we are mired in a vicious cycle of poverty, crime and unemployment. Thanks to the slippage and the wastage our youth cannot cover the cost of education, our children go to bed hungry at night, and there are inadequate health services and not enough medicines in the country. We have hope and faith and for these we must truly be thankful for the grim days that lie ahead for Belize. #darkestjustbeforedawn