There will be another senior Cabinet Minister appearing before the Senate Select Committee hearing this coming Wednesday, July 12. Minister of Tourism and Belize Rural South area representative Manuel Herredia has confirmed that he has been summoned to appear to answer questions on matters raised in the Auditor General’s special audit report. Today he told the media he will accept the invite, but will be attend with caution.


ManuelHonourable Manuel Heredia - Minister of Tourism


“Unfortunately yesterday evening, I receive the summons to appear  Wednesday over there and I believe honestly, I believe that this has turn to be something more political than in reality because as far as I am concern the Auditor General had already said what had appear about myself, Minister Montero  and a few others that after her findings it became clear that there was nothing wrong as to what we were doing , our job is to recommend if there is anything faulty in the application it is the job of the personnel in the Immigration Department so hopefully this will give me a chance to be able to the public to convey the image that I have, that I always had from a child up until now that I still maintain that same image and that all that I have done then, now and in the future is to serve the people of my constituency and the entire country of Belize.”


Considering the behaviour displayed by Ministers Edmond “Clear the land” Castro and Anthony “Boots” Martinez who got down and dirty while under heavy questioning by the Committee members last Wednesday, the question tonight is will Minister Herredia be any different than his Cabinet colleagues?


Honourable Manuel Heredia - Minister of Tourism


“I have to be very honest if they are polite and asking questions in a mannerly way like that I will be very polite but if they try to pretend that I have committed any side of corruptions…if they tell me I am corrupted I know a few of them that there is evidence that they have been involve in corruption but with me there is no evidence up to now that I have been involve in corruption.”


One matter which may become testy for Minister Herredia is his relationship with the Harmouch family in San Pedro. The Auditor General’s report dedicates pages to examine this relationship and even notes that “there appeared to be a special connection between Honorary Consul of Belize in Lebanon Khodr H. Harmouch and Manuel Herredia in order to have…three members of the Harmouche family acquire Belizean nationality.


The report further adds that Minister Herredia once requested that a nationality application be processed even though the applicant did not qualify for nationality at that time. Minister Herredia, of course, claims that he has done nothing wrong.


Honourable Manuel Heredia - Minister of Tourism


“It is not only the Harmouch family that I have assisted in making sure that recommending of probably checking to see the status of their application or so I have done it for hundreds from every part of Central American, Expat that are living over here and they qualify and they ask me for a recommendation I will do it and then the one that they were speaking about the VISAS, in reality taking an open VISA like that for an application, if I did one or two that not really applied but to check out one or two but this from Opposition days when I was in opposition, the now opposition government used to allow me to bring packages from Belmopan, sealed packages and delivered to Immigration over here whatever Immigration San Pedro had I would take it either on a Monday or Tuesday that I go…”


Reporter


“But Minister why they turned you into a general courier didn’t they had any other people specifically from the Immigration Department who could have done that?”


Honourable Manuel Heredia - Minister of Tourism


“Not really these people goes once a month or sometimes because they are based over here, if you want to travel and it is not official then you would have to pay out of your pocket…”


Reporter


“But are you saying that even when you were not a Minister when you were not required to be going every day to the city you were going every day?”


Honourable Manuel Heredia - Minister of Tourism


“No, I was an Area Representative I told you when I was in Opposition I was still the Area Representative as the Representative they would ask me the favor just to deliver sometime once a month if there is nobody they would take it to Tropic and then they will pick it up from the airport, what is wrong with the Area Rep taking it directly to the officer in charge in Belmopan and bringing something back and delivered something sealed, Representative or Minister will not open that to see what is in there.”


Reporter


“Do you still do that function now?”


Honourable Manuel Heredia - Minister of Tourism


“No, that was discontinued.”


As you know by now, our newsteam will be present at Wednesday’s hearing and will bring to you every bit of detail possible.

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