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#416899 - 09/23/11 02:22 PM PM Announces Cheaper Internet, Cheaper Phone Rates
Marty Offline
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SPEECH:
by Ray Auxillou, WesternBelizeHappenings.com

GOVERNMENT TO WRITE OFF $62 1/2 MILLION IN HOUSING LOANS FOR POOR PEOPLE.

This is worth 2 points on the UDP report card. Score now 37%

"In the effort to build Belize and to better Belize, Government conceives of land and housing as two of the most important cornerstones. We are working with Mexico on funding for a new low-cost housing construction programme that will be similar to the one we did with Venezuela, and which will be countrywide. In the meantime we are spending almost 5 million dollars this year on home repairs and for home improvement all across the nation. This is on top of the OPEC 4.2 million for Southside Belize. Of course, everything that we do in housing is free. We provide grants, not loans. This is because poor people-with the best will in the world-cannot repay loans except at an intolerable cost to themselves. We are witness to this even now as there are more than 9,200 loans currently on the books at the Ministry of Housing. The weight of these is taxing the loan recipients to perdition; but no more. Government has decided that it will write off each and every single one of
those loans at a total cost of around 62.6 million dollars. I will therefore be going to the National Assembly shortly for the formalization of this process. And it will be the consummation of massive relief for all those struggling with government mortgages that they simply cannot pay."

44 RURAL COMMUNITIES TO GET ELECTRICITY SERVICE FROM NATIONALIZED BEL

Electricity service to dozens of remote rural communities were denied by BEL under private ownership. Considered uneconomic by poverty, little attention was paid by profiteers to the fact, that historical precedent had showed electric service was the dynamic that caused remote communities to turn around and suddenly develop. My village of Caye Caulker was one such case, which I was personally aware of. Always even after giving electricity, the Electric company consistantly underestimated the demand and installed inadequate capability for electricity. Causing decades of delays in GDP growth.

From El Caudillo´s Independence Day campaign speech.

"Accordingly, I also want to announce that by way of a European Union grant and the provision of counterpart funds by the Government of Belize, BEL will begin to provide electrification to 44 rural and peri-urban communities countrywide. Around two thousand new households will now be serviced in the outlying areas of Belmopan; in Benque and Succotz and Cayo South; in the Belize District at Hattieville and Rockstone Pond; in Orange Walk and Corozal; in Dangriga Town at Rivas Estate and Wagirale; and in the villages of Stann Creek West and Toledo East and West."

HOUSE LOT PROGRAM TO GET STARTED PRIOR TO NEXT ELECTION IN EACH DISTRICT.

From El Caudillo´s campaign speech on Independence Day.

"Then, on the question of land, the slow delivery especially of building lots has been a much-vexed issue that Government is determined to address. Thus, 5 million dollars is being spent on a new land management system that should eliminate a lot of the current chokeholds. And land is being identified in every District for survey and subdivision into house lots. Government will award these to first time owners by way of immediate freehold title, and at a price not to exceed a thousand dollars payable in installments. One thousand acres have already been acquired along the Western Highway for allocation to people in the Belize and Cayo Districts and so around four thousand building lots will be distributed as soon as surveyors can complete the subdivision work. We have also secured, by way of an amicable arrangement with a company called Belize Distills, another parcel of land enough to give one thousand house lots to Belizeans in the Orange Walk district. We will now turn to each of the other Districts and will acquire whatever is needed to continue addressing, in a sharply accelerated way, the cry of our people for land."

EL CAUDILLO, DEAN BARROW UPBEAT ABOUT SWATH OF INCOMING INVESTORS, WITH PLANS TO DEVELOP INDUSTRIES IN BELIZE.

From the campaign speech of the El Caudillo on Independence Day.

"This, Ladies and Gentlemen, is now the face of BEL. This is the advance being brought by Belizean suzerainty, Belizean ownership, and Belizean control.
Now I want to end this address by ensuring that I quarrel with no one. I will therefore not get into it with those that would try to scuttle one set of perfectly good partnership proposals that could rescue the sugar industry and the livelihood of six thousand independent Belizean cane farmers. But it is pretty obvious that there are some in our midst trying to produce the very outcome they claim to decry - the scaring away of foreign investment. I make this point only to repeat that fear-mongering notwithstanding, this government and this country will continue to welcome and, indeed, to court foreign investment. Of course, it can never be at the price of Belizean dignity. Whether, therefore, it is in the area of telecommunications, electricity or butane gas; and whether the investor is from Britain, Canada, or Central America, the requirements of fair play, equity and conscience must apply. Genuine investors know this. And they are prepared to come.

They are willing to follow the rules. That is why, for example, a brand new palm oil industry is on tap; that is why the sugar factory at Libertad is reopening; that is why we are beginning to shine in Business Process Outsourcing; that is why four new call centers that will provide at least one thousand jobs, are lined up; and that is why medical tourism in Belize is about to become a reality."

INVESTMENTS APPLYING TO COME TO BELIZE:

1) New Palm Oil industry
2) Re-opening of dormant moth balled sugar factory, by Mexican investment
3) New CALL CENTERS to service USA corporations with outsourcing information
4) Medical tourism

INTERNET RATES IN BELIZE TO BE CUT, TO EQUAL THAT OF COSTA RICA, SET BY THEM, 20 YEARS AGO. NEW RATE $25 usa per month.

It has taken 20 years to get a sustainable internet rate in Belize and I suppose NATIONALIZATION OF BTL has been the cause of this improvement, required to develop Belize to a modern state. Currently only 14% of the homes have access to internet service and in this global climate, such a figure disenfranchizes and makes for class divisions in our society. To get ahead, the INTERNET IS NOW needed as common as running water and electricity. Since it was the new Government control of the Board of Directors, from Nationalization, that makes this come about, we will award 2 points on the UDP report card, for a move in the right direction.

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#416904 - 09/23/11 02:27 PM Re: PM Announces Cheaper Internet, Cheaper Phone Rates [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Barrow says lower electricity rates and internet GST gone

Dean Barrow

The Independence Day ceremony was also an opportunity for PM Barrow to make announcements about the two recently acquired utility companies. Barrow accused Fortis, the former owner of Belize Electricity Limited, of making artificial costs by buying equipment that wasn’t used. He promised to lower electricity rates and to waive General Sales Tax from internet services.

Dean Barrow

“Telemedia will, on October first, give both greater Internet access and a lower price to Belizeans. Currently the minimum amount of bandwidth that can be purchased is two hundred and fifty six kilobits per second for one hundred dollars per month, plus GST. Now the company will offer one hundred and twenty-eight kilobits per second at the rock bottom cost of just forty-nine dollars per month. But there is more. As a special thirtieth anniversary gift, government will remove the GST on internet services. We will thus forgo two million dollars in annual revenue. But it will be worth it. Currently, the fourteen or fifteen percent rate of internet penetration in Belize is among the lowest within our country peer group. Also on October first, the international dialing rates using the 10-10-199 service will be reduced by an average of twenty-five percent to the fifteen countries that Belizeans most frequently call. The list includes the United States of America, Central America, the Caribbean, and China. Turning to B.E.L., I can say that on Thursday last the new, Government- controlled Board of Directors officially renounced the Fortis demand for our people to pay higher electricity rates. We were told prior to the sovereign acquisition, that Fortis required an immediate rate increase in order to avoid the certain collapse of B.E.L. But Belizeans have now taken over, and there is no way to sugarcoat what we found. Fortis was consistently inflating B.E.L.’s asset base and engaging in wasteful capital spending. This was in order to manufacture artificial pass-through costs and justify unwarranted rates of returns. Those sharp practices have also been stopped by the new, Belizean-owned B.E.L. And that is why there will be nohike in your electricity bills. Not now, not ever—under this administration. In fact, barring any emergencies, we actually expect to lower rates at the time of the next full tariff review. That is correct: light bills are going to go down!”

Channel 5


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#416912 - 09/23/11 03:34 PM Re: PM Announces Cheaper Internet, Cheaper Phone Rates [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
So ... what the PM actually said in his Independence Day speech was that BTL would now offer 128 Kbps internet service at US24.50/BZ$49 a month, and that the GST on internet would be dropped.

That's a start, but it's still pathetic and keeps Belize near the bottom of the world in bandwidth per dollar. 128 Kb (note that it's Kb per second down, not Mb) is basically dial-up speed from the 1990s. Many countries in Europe, Asia and North America get 5 to 20 Mbps down for roughly that same 25 bucks. All the countries in Central America have faster speeds and higher internet penetration than Belize.

Mean *average* speeds in a few selected countries (source: netindex.com):

Lithuania 33.4 Mbps
South Korea 28.7
Iceland (same population as Belize) 19.8
Germany 15.5
U.S. 11.8
Canada 11.5
Aruba 8.5
Ghana 5.7
Jamaica 4.4
Mexico 4.3
Cayman Islands 3.6
Zimbabwe 3.0
Nicaragua 2.5
Honduras 2.3
Costa Rica 2.1
Guatemala 1.9
Haiti 1.5

Belize cannot compete internationally until it faces up to the need to provide high speed internet at reasonable prices. Since the GOB now owns BTL it can act to require BTL to help Belize compete by offering competitive internet.

--Lan Sluder

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#416938 - 09/23/11 07:56 PM Re: PM Announces Cheaper Internet, Cheaper Phone Rates [Re: Marty]
Bear Offline
Okay so what i'm NOT seeing is a drop in the rates on faste speeds unless you want to count the waiver of GST on all internet service...wait? they are dropping GST on all internet right?...

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