BELMOPAN, Wed. Feb. 10, 2021– Former Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow is the first person from the past UDP administration that has been summoned to appear before the newly established Commission of Inquiry that was formed early this month to launch an investigation into what the PUP administration and the Public Service Union have called a fire-sale of government assets. On February 10, the Government of Belize announced that the commission has summoned the former Prime Minister, Hon. Dean Barrow; Financial Secretary, Joseph Waight; and Mr. Ruperto Vicente, head of the Vehicle Care Unit, to attend the first proceeding, which will take place on Monday, February 15, 2021.
While being interviewed by members of the media, Lead Opposition Senator, Michael Peyrefitte said that he is sure that his former boss is able to “handle himself,” and that they look forward to the “dog and pony” show.
“I think you know that the Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow is more than capable of handling himself, so we look forward to that ‘dog and pony’ show, because I can’t understand why a Commission of Inquiry would want to summon a former prime minister to explain something that you can easily get the record for from the Financial Secretary. If you want to find out what happened in the ministry, the minister is not the person that you summon or ask. There is a management team that’s comprised of the minister; the CEO, who is the appointed officer; the finance officer, and the administrative officer. If you want to find out what happened in the Ministry of Finance, the person you summon is the Financial Secretary. He has all the records,” Senator Peyrefitte said.
He added that the PUP administration is simply using the commission as a distraction to shift the public conversation away from the imminent measures that will be put in place to address the economic crisis.
In an interview with News5’s Hipolito Novelo, Prime Minister John Briceño said that he hopes the former PM shows up.
“He was the Minister of Finance. In many instances, he was the one who had to approve the selloff of these assets pretty much at giveaway prices. He is the one who approved it. Obviously, he has to go. I hope he will show up,” Prime Minister Briceño said.
According to 7News, in a text message that was sent by former PM Barrow, he remarked that he is “happy” and willing to go before the Commission of Inquiry and that he will absolutely attend the proceeding.
This historic first sitting of the Commission of Inquiry will take place on Monday, February 15, 2021 at the Belize City House of Culture. The session will be closed to the public but will be streamed live on the Government of Belize Press Office Facebook page.