REPORT #256 May 2000

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

The Prime Minister broke ranks with the Cabinet last week, in a public attack on the MONOPOLY. WHY?

Wonderful question? Don't know the answer to that one. Might be because Ashcroft is now in England and surrendered his interest in places like Belize, to get a Peerage and enter the status climbing ranks of commoners of that CLASS ORGANIZED society. He also has entered into British Politics being the Treasurer of the Conservative Party, I think. ( Don't keep up much with British nonsense.)

MCI the other big shareholder is a USA company and forbidden to give bribes in foreign countries. They might not obey such a law, but in Belize should they do so, because there are few secrets in Belize, and it is widely believed that all communications and probably meeting rooms in the capital are bugged by the CIA and MI-6. With contributions drying up, it might be time to squeeze the foreign investors a little by local politicians.

The reasons might even be more mundane. The Prime Minister is a socialist at heart by all appearances, at least so long as he is guaranteed to run the show. So, he may truthfully be tackling a problem long overdue by ten years or so.

The Amandala did a good comprehensive article on May 14th., 2000. I refer you to "BELIZE BOSS BASHES BTL" at: It covers in detail the ownership of BTL.

What is not covered, is that BTL has paid back it's owners in profits and dividends several times since it's inception. Wish I had, had, the foresight and the money to invest in it myself back at the beginning. The telecommunications operations in captive markets like Belize is a real cash producing COW. You couldn't wish for anything better. But apparently the shareholders do. They want the government to cut the taxes more. I can understand that, they are trying to squeeze every drop of currency, or blood out of Belize by the end of their monopoly contract; which is in two or three years more. If I owned 25% I would too. But as a Belizean, I want something a monopoly is inherently supposed to do; which is infra-structure for service and development.

Profits since January, 1998 have already paid back the investors initial investment more than 100%, just in a little over the last two years. The owners have shifted around a bit over the years, but each set of owners has more than made their money back and then some. Several times in some cases I am told. Profits in 1998 were 46.1% and in 1999 were 49.6%. Beats the DOW, beats the S&P 500 Index, and just about beats any investment you can find in the USA financial pages for WallStreet. If you own a bank, you even get to change local currency to foreign exchange. That solves another problem for an investor.

Ownership is currently, MCI 25%, Ashcroft through his Carlisle Holdings 26% and Social Security Board ( the government) 25% and others in the public float are 24%.

This means that Ashcroft could combine with either MCI, or with the Belize Government, to control the Telecommunications Monopoly profits and Board of Directors. He's a.c./d.c. on this one! Can swing either way. Since Ashcroft has pulled out of investing in Belize and might be no longer providing deals to the Belmopan PUP politicians, then that could be why Prime Minister Musa has turned on the BTL monopoly?

Giving PM Musa the benefit of the doubt, he might be a sincerely motivated developmentist for Belize and the recent public attack on BTL a real one! Hard to believe though. Cynicism rules, or it would have been done 10 years ago, or more!

MCI and Carlisle are apparently threatening a proxy fight, if the government does not cut the taxes on profits. Talk about Robber Barons!. The problem here is; even though the initial investors and later investors have already made their money back in spades, there is only two or three years more to make a good profit by squeezing the local captive market under the monopoly contract. So, they have to squeeze before competition comes in and profits go down, as service and infra-structure building become the norm. With two or three more years to go, another 100% to 200% percent profit on the initial investment could be made and then they could walk away from what would be an obsolete capital plant with great profits and no losses. They would have doubled, or quadrupled their money and still own the business.

To squeeze more, the latest threat, apparently from the Amandala article is coming from MCI and Ashcroft's Carlisle Holdings. They own 51%. So, they would win a proxy fight on the Board of Directors. The government of Belize controlls 25% through the Social Security Board and the public float could vote either way, with 24%. The votes are in the hands of foreign owners.

The government of Belize has a number of choices. It holds the legislative card, the right of national sovereignty to be able to change the rules, start a new telecommunications type authority, slice off the internet business and open it to competition; by ruling it was unlawfully retained by BTL through piratical business practices, or get Ashcroft to donate money privately to select politicians under the table, or through disguised business dealings, like the paper shelf company of Courtenay fame in the Social Security case. There are lots of ways to do a diddle! From a sovereignty and development viewpoint, I would start a new tax on a sliding percentage scale to do with profits and dividends. Definitely increase the taxes. It's war they want, let them have it on the Board of Directors. The three seats on the Board owned by the government might be lost, but there are other legislative ways around that. Profits then might be taken out in Board member salary raises, or some such thing as an investor gimmic to get around legislation. The point is, that the development of the Belize economy demands that the telecommunications infra-structure be expedited. Fast! From the investors MCI and Carlisle Holdings viewpoint, they probably want to do the minimum possible, to keep the public and the government in Belmopan quiet, at the cheapest cost ,to maximize profits over the next two to three years of monopoly status. This is status quo economics and Belize is already behind and falling behind further every day.

It will be an interesting thing to watch. Let's see if the pompous financial genius's of the PUP party machine can handle dealing with sharks! In the meantime, they might get some local talent, like Benito Quan, and a few of the East Indian merchants on those decision meetings. It was the PUP crowd that got us into this mess originally about 12 years ago, with their profits and baksheesh ideas. You need some experienced successful local wheeler dealers at the table on this one. I have no confidence in the townie amateurs of the port town PUP party members in government. They are out of their class! This game is about pirates, cut and thrust wheeler dealing. Going for the jugular and playing hardball. Even some of those uneducated southside street gang types, who successfully play gambling games with dice would do better than Belmopan, if you translated the legalese into street talk first.

This game is not for lawyers, this game is for cutthroat businessmen!

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