Headline — 03 February 2018 — by Rowland A. Parks
Barrow’s $90-million headache sent back to the CCJ

Government filed applications at the CCJ in respect of the $90-million Belize Bank judgment

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Feb. 1, 2018– Reporters caught up with Prime Minister Dean Barrow at the launch of his United Democratic Party’s Belize City Council manifesto, which took place today at the party’s headquarters on Youth for the Future Drive.

Among the questions the Prime Minister was asked was whether or not the pivotal House of Representatives meeting to address whether to make a $90-million payment to the Belize Bank will take place on February 16, as had been previously announced. It is expected that when the House of Representatives meets again (the House met on January 5, 2018), the 90-million-dollar Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) judgment bill that was introduced by Prime Minister Barrow in his capacity as Minister of Finance will be debated and voted on.

PM Barrow replied, “I am not entirely sure, because, as you may have known, the Ashcroft Alliance, the Belize Bank, has filed an application for an enforcement order. The hearing of that has now been fixed for March 14.”

The Prime Minister added, “The government also filed two applications. One, concerning the matter of post-judgment interest — it is our contention that as of the date of the CCJ decision in favor of the bank, interest ought to have stopped running at 17 percent, and ought to, instead, have run at the statutory rate of 6 percent. So that’s as well before the CCJ and is to be heard at the same time as the bank’s application.”

Barrow continued: “The government also filed another application, saying that the bank’s application ought to be dismissed, because there is a want of jurisdiction on the part of the CCJ to enforce its own decisions. Because of the peculiar nature of the treaty provisions, the Constitution of this country and other laws, judgments of the CCJ can only be enforced by the Supreme Court in the contracting parties.

“Alternatively, in that same application, the government is saying, in any event, how can the bank ask for an enforcement order and an order of mandamus against the Minister of Finance, when it is quite clear that our constitutional arrangements, as well as the provisions of the Finance and Audit Act, proscribe, prevent any kind of payment of a judgment debt that is not already provided for by way of the annual Appropriations Act, prevent payment, except parliament votes the money.

“We are taking advice from the lawyers representing us, as to whether in terms of the date having now been fixed for the hearing of all those applications, and in particular that last one, we still ought to proceed with the vote on the 16th February. As soon as we have it clear from our lawyers what their recommendation is, and that would have been discussed in Cabinet, we will indicate to the public what the position is.”

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