Friday, January 24, 2014

Belize: P.M. Barrow blames both Castro and Board of Airports Authority on distasteful checks


On Wednesday, the House meeting lasted more than five hours, and a lot came out of it. We brought you the meat of the day on Wednesday, but tonight we have the gravy. Swimming in that gravy is the statutory body turned personal piggy bank, which is now the subject of intense scrutiny. At the Special Sitting of the House, Prime Minister Dean Barrow seemed reluctant to say the ‘C’ word where the issuing of checks from the Belize Airports Authority to Edmond Castro et al was concerned. He called it distasteful, an error of judgment, a bad decision, wrong and even egregiously wrong…but he would not call it corrupt. In the House PUP leader Francis Fonseca revealed that he has more than sixty checks made out to Castro, his friends, family members and political causes. That’s a massively egregious wrong, but while his Minister of State has become known for those, shall we say…errors of judgment…Barrow gave equal measure of blame to the Board of the BAA, which authorized the withdrawal of pennies from the piggy bank. Anyway…the Prime Minister says that it will never happen again, especially where Castro is concerned.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“I have spoken to the members of the airport authority, and I have told them that upon pain of being fired, not another check or form of assistance must be given to the minister. How they wah pay it back? it was legitimate in terms of the authority, of the jurisdiction of the airport authority to make contributions. That’s my point there is nothing illegal about it, there was nothing corrupt, but it is in terms of appearance very, very wrong. And indeed nobody in the public wants to know that a minister goes to a statutory body under his jurisdiction and gets money for A,B,C,D,E, F including for purpose of assistance for himself and for members of his family. The first thing that surfaced was that the minister got some money in assistance of his mother’s burial. Lord man, I mean again it don’t think it should have come from the airport authority but you can’t say that there is anything illegal bout that. So please let us be clear, don’t ask me in other words to fire the minster for being the recipient of funds that was given, with every authority to him by the B.A.A. The B.A.A. should never have done it. And if you ask me, in my due, he should never have asked them. And I think it is a serious error of judgment, but call it therefore what it is. But don’t, noh treat the puppy like a dog like Finnegan would like to say. What it is, is bad enough. Don’t make it worse. There is no corruption there. There is a terrible perception, the optics are bad. Man you must, look ya, better you shut up yo noh. You know that the judges of the court of appeal want a new building because of the horrible shoddy job that you did with the court of appeal. You weh take the property on Forest Drive, you weh hustle, talk about St. George’s Caye. So Mr. Speaker I say again, the leader of the opposition was perfectly correct in raising this issue. I think he went too far in describing it as not what it is and what it is, is bad enough. And I guarantee you that it stops from this moment on.”

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