The BTL board of management must be careful to keep the company’s nose clean, one reason being that BTL was taken over in the name of the Belizean people, and another reason being that they owe the owner for this company and have not yet paid him a cent in compensation.
It is true that the BTL owner, Lord Michael Ashcroft, was/is a predator and so on and so forth, and it is also true that he is claiming an exorbitant amount for the company, but that does not give the BTL board the right to behave as if they are John McAfee or someone from outer space.
The dance hall promotion held at the MCC Grounds on Friday night, December 14, in the name of Digicell, a BTL subsidiary or some such, was a crazy package which should be analyzed. The media organs of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition – the People’s United Party, are always telling us how to do our business at Kremandala. In this specific matter, we think the responsibility lies on them to untangle this web, which featured BTL being involved in at least two situations which will become more embarrassing as the truth is exposed.
The first situation has to do with a Digicell anniversary promotion which went crazy extravagant and committed a hundred thousand dollars to several foreign entertainers. Only after remonstrations were a few token Belizeans added to the package. The second situation has to do with the nationalized BTL, through the Digicell promoter, wreaking havoc on the football playing surface of the MCC Grounds, the home of “the beautiful game” in the nation’s population center.
The reason we think the matter requires the attention of the Opposition PUP is that they have the lawyers and accountants who know how these corporations are run. They also have access to their good friend, Lord Michael, who would be only too glad to assist them.
Laymen in Belize have been calling for Belizean journalists to do “investigative” journalism for more than two decades now. But it is only the two major political parties who can really investigate each other, because only they have the resources to fight each other in the courts and in the streets. Sometimes we are talking about big money, and big money can get you hurt if you yourself are not big in size.
Our sources say Digicell/BTL casually put $70,000 into the hands of a private promoter with no credentials except some resources of her family’s own, and then at least two private sources invested chunks of money because the promotion looked profitable to them. This may have been a case of what we used to call the “mixed economy.” The public sector involvement opened the gates to the MCC Grounds, and the private sector investors made sure no interested parties, such as the FFB and the semi-pro football league, could close those gates.
The upshot of this promotion is that BTL has egg on its face. Belizean entertainers have been disrespected, and the Garden was turned into a mudhole and garbage heap. The question is: what for, or perhaps, whom for?
In other nations of the world, musicians and entertainers have powerful unions to protect the national market from outsiders. Belize does not have such a union, but this clumsiness of last weekend’s promotion made it clear that Belize needs such a union to protect us from companies like BTL, a company whose excess liquidity is derived exclusively from Belizean consumers but a company which last week flung that money abroad in a cavalier fashion.
Nationhood is about protecting our own. If you want to bring in the expensive foreign talent, then there should be a tax which goes to a trade union of Belizean musicians and entertainers. It’s our money, Jack, Belizean money. Get real.