BELMOPAN, Fri. Feb. 5, 2021– Belize Infrastructure Limited (BIL) was incorporated back in October of 2013 as a special purpose vehicle to carry out government infrastructural projects under the Barrow administration. On Friday, in a regular sitting of the House of Representatives, Minister responsible for Infrastructure Development and Housing, Hon. Julius Espat, shared that an investigation into BIL has revealed what he calls an “incestuous relationship” between the Government-owned construction company and a private firm, known as International Environments (iE).
“We found that over 100 million dollars, over 100 million dollars because we have not been able to fully identify and certify the expenses up to date, but as far as we have seen, 100 million dollars has been spent though BIL,” Minister Espat revealed.
Minister Espat shared that 80% of these contracts were given to one contractor, the aforementioned i.E. “There was an incestuous relationship, Madam Speaker… A partner/ employee of i.E, became the General Manager of BIL after the General Elections,” he noted. He went on to say, “A little over a year after the March 2012 election, BIL was incorporated. As mentioned, professional architect and member of the US National Council of Architectural Registration Board (NCARB), Christy Mastry, was named the General Manager of the government special purpose vehicle.”
Mastry, according to Minister Espat, was also a partner of the architecture firm, i.E. She moved her office to a building owned by the firm shortly after becoming General Manager of BIL, according to Espat. Both the offices for Belize Infrastructure Limited and International Environments Ltd. are located on the 6th floor of the Matalon Building on Coney Drive.
“Subsequent to renting the office, then all of a sudden, all the contracts, not only the contract of construction, but the design or the design bill or just the construction or maybe a partnership, were awarded to the very same company that she came from without the necessary financial scrutiny that is needed,” Minister Espat said.
An alarming revelation made by Espat was that the office of this private architectural firm had access to the Government’s smart stream system. That is the enterprise-level application used by the Government of Belize for financial transactions. “We found out that there is also an access to smart stream that these two offices that are adjacent to each other have access to,” Espat shared.
In his remarks, Espat asserted that Mastry, whose actions are currently being investigated, would sign off on decisions that could only be made by a board. He alleged that some past board members formally documented past instances of this. In the coming month, the operations of BIL will be wound up. In the interim, the Prime Minister has decided to replace the company’s board of directors.