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Bernard Wagner Busted writing checks to himself Print E-mail
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Thursday, 12 April 2018 00:00

Street works in Belize City have come to a complete halt and lines of people looking for handouts at City Hall is now the norm. On Wednesday April 11 we passed the Belize City Council’s offices on North Front Street and noted hundreds of people lined up outside of City Hall with the expectation that they would be given a 10 dollar handout, classic PUP modus operandi. And as the lines get longer, street works are non-existent. Work on those streets that were being paved before the Municipal Elections came to an abrupt end such as the work on paving Racoon Street, a major artery. It is now a potholed ridden street with no timeframe being given as to when the work will commence again.

All of this is happening while Bernard Wagner admitted last week Friday that he actually approves, signs and cashes City Council checks to himself in order to sustain the PUP’s policy of mendicancy.

A quick fact check made by the Guardian has provided us with the Belize City Council Act which, in detailed fashion, explains how the council is to be run. An amendment to the Act actually spells out exactly how finances are to be used:

4 (2) “No payment shall be made to any member (whether in the form of a salary, allowance or otherwise) unless it has been previously approved by the Minister of Finance, and every payment made in contravention of this section shall be wholly void and shall be recoverable from the member receiving such payment.”

23. (1) The Council shall, before the end of September in each year, submit to the Minister responsible for Local Government for onward transmission to the Minister of Finance , in such form as may be prescribed by the Financial Secretary , estimates of revenue and expenditure for the period of one year commencing from 1st April then next ensuing, containing full details of salaries, allowances and all other items of expenditure whatever, and the Minister responsible for Finance shall present the said estimates to the National Assembly with such amendments, if any, as he may consider necessary having regard to the financial position of the Council.

(2) No expenditure shall be incurred by the Council unless it has been previously approved by the National Assembly but the Minister responsible for Finance may, if it appears to him to be of sufficient urgency, permit the Council to incur any lawful expenditure not prescribed in the approved estimates, and in every such case, the Council shall include such extra expenditure in the supplementary estimates and submit the same to the minister of Finance for the approval of the National Assembly.

(6) Every person who contravenes or fails to comply with any of the regulations made under this section shall, without prejudice to any civil liability which may be incurred in that behalf, be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year, or to both such fine and imprisonment.”

Back to Wagner- after his illegal decision to write and cash checks in his name, there was a public outcry pointing him to the City Council Act. On Tuesday he again made public appearances admitting his ineptitude and going even further, blaming the employees of the council for not pointing him in the right direction. He stated as follows: “Essentially what happened there is that two checks were issued to me, I endorsed the checks obviously because it was issued to me. I was then given the cash which is for the twenty-eighth of March and I believe the fourth of April, two checks totaling five hundred dollars to serve as a fund to assist people… ”

“Going forward we will change the way we operate, obviously.  I was actually given the way how it was done this morning, a bit too late.  And clearly, that is an indicator again of how people are operating, how our staff are operating within the scope of the council where there is this constant grind out type of war and infighting in between trying to work along, trying to work along with people who clearly do not share in your manifesto and do not share in your mandate.”

So what he is saying is that he wanted someone else to do his job. The truth is that as the Mayor he should have long ago familiarized himself with the Belize City Council Act. Giving $5 and $10 dollars is not a part of the mandate of the council. The council should look into fixing streets, clearing drains, and the overall management of the city. The culture of mendicancy which Wagner is perpetrating is no longer acceptable in 2018.

Last Updated on Thursday, 12 April 2018 10:44