They say that Justice is blind, and one might naturally assume it is because she is impartial…in Belize, it is more probable that she had for the last thirteen years closed her eyes in horror. Or perhaps, it was done in order to avoid bearing witness to the squalid and dilapidated conditions of her courts or at the incapability of her overwhelmed representatives to adequately handle an ever swelling work load. At the opening of the Supreme Court there was great evidence that this GOB means to fulfill its promise that it will empower women and include them at every level of decision-making. It is certainly one for the history books that The President of the Bar Association, The Attorney General and The Chief Justice are all women. Already the difference is evident, as the opening remarks on such a historic and ceremonial event was laden with much honest discourse surrounding one of the cornerstones of our democracy. While before it was business as usual, the new consensus is that the wheels of Justice have been slow and shaky, for a myriad of reasons but given the passionate dialogue there is no doubt that very soon the change will come.
It seems that selective vision was symptomatic of a disease more virulent than the present pandemic. Corruption seems to have invaded even the PUC and their Board of Directors. We are well-acquainted with the previous administration’s penchant for turning a blind eye on glaring instances of conflict of interest and there are not many so glaring as the acquisition of the old Mirab building. A past member of the board of the PUC is coincidentally also one of the owners of the property. This is a breach of ethics and gross conflict of interest and it should never have happened under any circumstance. The cherry on the pie though seems to be the amount and terms under which the sale was made. The owners purport that it is in fact 3 lots, and one building that they sold. However, it is one building sitting on two properties and is considered by standard international real estate practices to be sold as one property. So in reality, the sale was for two properties only. There is a gargantuan effort being played out on the media plus on to justify the cost of more than 10M on a building and parking lot at a time during which the Belizean economy could least afford such outlandish and frivolous expenses. The sale for which a down payment was made just before the last general election and for which we must now pay the remaining balance at a whopping 7% interest rate.
There is no justification for the purchase of the Mirab property, for which hundreds of thousands must still be spent to make it usable. The market value of the property even with its enviable location does not factor in the depreciation of a building over twenty years old in severe disrepair. It does not take into account the high interest rates being charged or the fact that it will require hundreds of thousands to make it usable once more. The horrible optics and the unpardonable breach of ethics aside, this was just not a good business deal for Belize. We join the call of the chairman of the PUC to have this agreement overturned in the best interest of Belizeans. This amounts to highway robbery in broad daylight and must not be countenanced.