Ceding sovereignty Print E-mail
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Thursday, 12 January 2017 00:00

On December 13 the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and the Santander Group signed an agreement which will see the latter, selling power to Belize Electricity Limited. This will bring about a state where 10% more of power needed in Belize will be generated locally. While that in and of itself is good news for Belize, one aspect of the deal which has just barely been discussed is perhaps one of the more important elements of the deal. As part of the deal, Santander recognizes the PUC as the first authority for dealing with disputes that may arise between BEL and the group.

In his presentation to the media at the time of the signing, John Avery, PUC’s chairman, pointed this out as a plus in the deal specifically because he noted that most other Power Sharing Agreements between BEL and electricity suppliers have it that if any dispute were to arise, these would be settled outside of Belize. At this point you must be asking yourself why it is that we are pointing this out, the answer is simple- PUP cedes sovereignty, UDP keeps it. All other power purchase agreements signed in the past were done so by the PUP government. The one with Santander is the only one which was signed while the UDP is in office. It is important to note the difference on where disputes are to be settled if disputes were to arise because of what the country is facing at this point in time as it relates to the Accommodation Agreement.

On Monday January 9 the government of Belize suffered a major financial blow when it was announced that the Supreme Court of the United States would not listen to an appeal it made on a judgment against it by Ashcroft -related companies: BCB Holdings Limited and Belize Social Development Limited. The refusal by the U.S. Supreme court will now see the Ashcroft companies collect on a U.S. 50 million dollar arbitration award against Belize. Again this is part and parcel of the greater modus operandi of the People’s United Party ceding sovereignty to a foreign jurisdiction. In every case where Ashcroft was involved and even in others like the NEWCO case the PUP government was consistent in ceding its right to be sovereignty. It is beyond any reasonable thinking person’s logic why they would sign on to documents knowing that if disputes arose they would ultimately have to be settled outside of Belize and outside of Belize’s legal framework.

The most recent judgment originates from the Accommodation Agreement where there was a specific clause at 15.2 it states that, “Any dispute arising out of or in connection with this Agreement including any question regarding its existence, validity or termination, which cannot be resolved amicably between the parties shall be referred to and finally resolved by arbitration under the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) Rules which Rules are deemed to be incorporated by reference under this section. There shall be 3 arbitrators.” This is simply mind boggling but is not the only such cession of sovereignty. The same type of arrangement could be found in other cases such as the Ships and Companies Registry contracts as well as NEWCO.