Highlights — 16 December 2017 — by Rowland A. Parks
NTUCB and PM Barrow agree to hold Commission of Inquiry into UHS loan guarantee

BELIZE CITY, Wed. Dec. 13, 2017–Following a meeting with Prime Minister Dean Barrow this morning, the National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB) announced this evening, via a press release, that an agreement has been reached to hold a Commission of Inquiry into the arrangement which led to the provision of a loan guarantee for the Universal Health Services (UHS) facility.

The NTUCB announcement that the Prime Minister has given the green light for the Commission of Inquiry comes just one week after a Senate Select Committee wrapped up 13 months of public hearing on the Auditor General’s report on the Immigration Department, for which its report is still pending.

The NTUCB press release opens saying: “A Commission of Inquiry (COI) into all the transactions and circumstances of the acquisition of the Universal Health Services (UHS) facility from inception to present, including questions of ownership and payments made to the Belize Bank Ltd., will be established.”

Apart from noting that it had received permission to set up the Commission of Inquiry from the Prime Minister, the NTUCB added in its press release, “Furthermore, PM Barrow invited NTUCB to draft the terms of reference for the COI, work on which accelerates this weekend at a special meeting of the NTUCB General Council (GC).”

The NTUCB release goes on to say that the establishment of the COI is a direct result of the NTUCB (GC) General Council, which had unanimously passed a resolution calling for an inquiry into the UHS matter following the judgment of the Caribbean Court of Justice against the Government of Belize and in favor of the Belize Bank Ltd. “NTUCB expects the COI to be empowered to get full disclosure from every party involved on all details of the UHS matter, and to make recommendations to prevent any repeat of Belizean taxpayers being on the hook for an estimated $90 million, with nothing to show for it,” stated the release.
Interestingly however, the NTUCB press release on the UHS matter stopped short of making any comment on whether the Government of Belize should obey the ruling of Belize’s highest court of appeal.

When the House of Representatives reconvenes in January, Prime Minister Barrow is expected to table a motion for the payment of the $90 million CCJ judgment debt, which Parliament has to approve before funds can be issued to the Belize Bank.

It remains to be seen whether or not Prime Minister Barrow will budge from his stated position regarding the CCJ judgment.

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