Voice of the Common Man

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Hilly Bennett

Faber in Sackcloth and Ashes – A Spurious Concession

By Hilly Bennett

Mother Teresa said “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”

Ostensibly the voters cast the stone in general election 2020 and changed the political world in Belize. The electorate, the almost 83 per cent transformed “the rising tide of blue ballots” into a blue tsunami which crushes all the UDP dreams of getting away with all their illegalities. The People’s United Party with Honourable John Briceño won a LANDSLIDE VICTORY!

Concession by heir imagined, to-be Leader of the Opposition United Democratic Party, came unusually early to the question of many. Dressed in sackcloth and ashes, Honourable Patrick Jason Faber conceded defeat to Prime Minister John Briceño. Attempting to sound magnanimous, Faber conceded that the PM and the PUP Government will face challenges ahead in taking the tiny sovereign nation through a long recovery and there will be the need for a unified front. However, this deceitful robotic speech was laid bare when the Leader of the Opposition failed to call out his precious party for the state of affairs of the Jewel. The floods and the COVID pandemic were blamed for the crisis that has engulfed Belize and the citizenry.

No mention was made of the insurmountable series of scandals, and corrupt acts across the expanse of the nation. The “hotbed of corruption ”, the immigration scandal, the Airport Authority fleecing by Castro et al, Sanctuary Bay, and the millions and millions worth of infrastructure contracts void of the Contractor General approval amongst others. It would behove the writer of said speech not to mention the financial irregularities that occurred under the watch of Faber chomping at the bit to be elected at the General Elections.

An audit revealed in early January 2020 that between April 2015 and March 2016 the National Sports Council (NSC) was fleeced monies to the tune of $416,228.25. These monies were embezzled and redirected by individuals working at NSC to entities including, as alleged at the time, former Minister Herman Longsworth. Longsworth collected, prior to general election 2015, $75,000 on behalf of a company Go Enterprise Limited, for works that should have been done on the Marion Jones Sporting Complex. The total loss amounted to more than a million dollars.

Additionally, under Faber’s watch, an audit revealed that fifty-four thousand dollars was spent on fuel alone and questionable contracts amounting to 2.23 million dollars were awarded to teachers and cronies when Dr. Simeon Coc, the failed political aspirant against Honourable Oscar Requena, was principal at Julian Cho Technical High School.

The Ministry of Education was fraught with neglect in the investment of quality education, notwithstanding funding of USD 35 million with an additional sum of USD 461,000 in grant money. The loan and grant were approved by the CDB Board of Directors, subsequent to meeting with Government officials of Belize in Basseterre, St. Kitts. Aside from building 35 new schools, the monies were supposed to finance the implementation of an early stimulation and emergent learning ( ESEL ) program, a review of the school feeding program, the development of an early identification system ( EIS ) for at-risk children and the development of a public education and communication strategy. An audit of these monies is urgently needed. Unfortunately, Belize’s education system has suffered dearly but not because of the lack of funding. Clearly, the future of education did not matter for the Education Minister’s tenure in government. This failed Minister went around breaking ground for buildings he had no intention of constructing. Similarly, he overpriced tablets for campaign points; such tablets were never delivered by him.

Undoubtedly, the UDP regime, including Patrick Faber must be held accountable for the destructive path that has forced upon Belize and its children. When the veil is lifted, Faber’s phony concession rings of hollow incompetence.