I read with interest your Editorial in the Amandala of Sunday, April 5, 2015 entitled “Pointing fingers and PUDP politics”. In this editorial you sought to equate the illegal action of the PUP in the past by totally ignoring and violating the law and the UDP who openly passed a law (as permitted by the constitution) to ensure that, if any doubt exists, procedurally everything was done correctly with respect to the PetroCaribe program.
I also note the reprinting of a letter by Dr. Carla Barnett from January 9, 2008 that criticized the PUP for violating the Finance and Audit (Reform) Act. In her letter, she clearly states that in the absence of another permitting law, what the PUP did was illegal. In this present case with the UDP, that enabling law is the PetroCaribe bill that was recently passed.
Now the question that can be asked is why this bill was not passed at the start of the PetroCaribe program? The answer is simply that the Finance and Audit (Reform) Act did not anticipate a creature such as PetroCaribe and did not properly address it. Moreover, no one even considered the PetroCaribe initiative to be a loan requiring parliamentary approval until Jules confronted the PM after a House meeting and the PM’s surprise was clearly apparent when he conceded that he needed to look at the matter again.
After that review, the government still holds the position that it acted properly because of the nature of the PetroCaribe agreement and program. However, since the Opposition could not win the argument in the court of public opinion and have now taken the matter to the courts, the government wisely decided to pass legislation to ensure that the matter cannot be interpreted differently and an unexpected adverse court ruling emerges.
On one final matter, you incorrectly compare the expensive hundreds of millions of dollars borrowed by the PUP and the aura of economic growth then to the real growth and development we experience now under PetroCaribe. The difference is crystal clear – ten years ago, those hundreds of millions under the PUP went into mostly phantom projects that did not benefit Belize – just ask the Hon. Johnny Briceño about those millions and millions and millions. Now, we can see the concrete result of real infrastructure development taking place, together with robust investments in the private sector in sugar, tourism, call centers, just to mention a few.
To end your editorial, you write: “The PUP were (sic) right to fight the PetroCaribe bill with all their might: such a bill may well spell political doom for the blue.” It is not the bill that will spell doom for them, but rather it is the dramatic economic growth and excellent management under this present UDP government that will ensure that.