Belmopan, Friday, 26th June 2020
In March, we on this side came before this honorable house and tabled a no confidence motion. It was in effect our position that the Belizean People had lost confidence in this UDP Government and administration.
The member for Cayo South and I successfully brought before the Chief Justice the case that his Government had violated the constitution and had unlawfully spent billions of dollars without the prior approval of this Honourable House.
It was in part because of that court ruling, and it was also in part because we knew full well that the UDP would not be able to carry out the decision of the Chief Justice to correct this problem in 6 months that we on this side said that the UDP had lost their moral and legal ability to lead this nation.
Now recall Madam Speaker that it was under oath and in the media that the Financial Secretary revealed that there was a “slippage” of 100 million dollars. In essence the Financial Secretary said that the government could not account for one hundred million dollars that they had spent.
Remember now, this UDP Government and this Minister of Finance was found by the Chief Justice to be in violation of the Finance and Audit act for spending over a billion dollars without the prior approval of this Honourable House.
It is with this backdrop of the illegal spending of monies and the 100 million dollars that the Fin Sec classified as slippage. It is with this backdrop of lack of transparency and accountability of billions. And it is with the backdrop that this administration, which is one hundred and twenty-nine days before the expiration of its mandate, today comes to this Honourable House to seek approval to borrow close to sixty million dollars. And of course, we should add to it the additional millions he will be borrowing in the offer of US treasury bills.
So I ask the question Madam Speaker: what would be the right thing for us to do at this time? Would it be right for any responsible opposition to support an administration that 3 months ago unsuccessfully defended in court its record of illegal spending and of not being able to account for 100 million dollars in slippage?
Would it be the responsible thing for an opposition to give leave for an outgoing Prime Minister and minister of Finance to saddle the Belizean people with yet over 100 million in debt when we all know full well that the real economic state of our nation is not because of COVID but because of the years of UDP corruption, incompetence and mismanagement?
This government already got 75 million dollars at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, which we all agreed would help us get through this. I wonder if that 100 million in slippage had not occurred if perhaps, we may not have even needed that initial $75 million from the Central bank? But we are past that. What we are not past however, is that fact that by now our debt to GDP ratio must be well over 100 percent.
Now I know that things dread, after all I was the person who at the last House Sitting raised the issue of a stimulus package. But any stimulus package has to have the input of our partners, it should include the input of the productive sector, the business sector by way of the Belize Chamber of Commerce and those who would want to see funds be directed to getting our country moving in the right direction again. We should not be borrowing to put money into the hands of cronies or to put cash in the hands of Party supporters. So we want to see the plan. We want a plan that shows how these monies, especially that $12 million US from the IDB for cash transfers, will be distributed. We want to see who will benefit and how 24 million dollars, which we will all have to pay back, will be spent.
We on this side say again that the people have lost confidence in this UDP Government, they are tired of the UDP.