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#59501 - 11/26/02 09:24 AM Court orders B.T.L. to roll back rates
Marty Offline
Court orders B.T.L. to roll back rates
Monday, November 25, 2002

A decision in the Supreme Court today may mean an early Christmas for
the nation's telephone users. The ruling is complicated, but essentially
Chief Justice Abdulai Conteh ruled that the stop order issued late last
year by then Minister Responsible for Telecommunications, Ralph Fonseca,
is valid, and the price increases made at that time are illegal and must
be rolled back. At the time, B.T.L. won a temporary injunction against
the stop order and the so-called "tariff rebalancing" was allowed to
proceed. The new rates radically increased the cost of local service,
while cutting prices on international, cellular and inter-district
calls. Exactly what will happen next is not crystal clear. It appears
that as of today the price of monthly line rental will roll back from
twenty to twelve dollars per month for residential customers and fifty
to twenty for businesses. The price per minute for local calls will also
be cut in half to the old rate five cents per minute. As for these rates
that were lowered in the rebalancing, it is not certain what will
happen, as the coming reality of competition will make it difficult for
B.T.L. to push rates to a level that will drive customers into the
waiting arms of Intelco. And what about those eleven months of higher
local charges? According to the court, consumers should receive a
refund, in many cases amounting to hundreds of dollars per phone line.
It is believed, however, that B.T.L. will appeal the decision and during
that time the Court of Appeal could stay the execution of the judgement
until the appeal is heard.

#59502 - 11/26/02 09:25 AM Re: Court orders B.T.L. to roll back rates
Marty Offline
Attorney General's Ministry


25 November, 2002 - Belmopan
.. In a judgment delivered today, the Honourable Chief Justice, Dr.
Abdulai Conteh, ruled that the price increases which were unilaterally
imposed on the Belizean public by the Belize Telecommunications Limited
(“BTL”) in December, 2001, were made without consultation
and that the Stop Order issued by the Honourable Ralph Fonseca, then
Minister responsible for Telecommunications, to stop BTL from
implementing the price increases is valid.

.. On the 28th day of December, 2001 the Honourable Ralph Fonseca,
under section 23 of the Telecommunications Act, made Statutory
Instrument No. 11 of 2002 directing BTL to stop the implementation of
the new tariffs and to revert to the position as it was immediately
before December 1st, 2001 and to program prepaid call boxes already
installed in the districts to accept pre-paid cards at fifteen cents per
call until further notice and not to issue or serve any telephone bills
to consumers for the month of December , 2001 or thereafter based on the
new tariffs with effect from December 1st, 2001.

.. BTL challenged the validity of the Stop Order and argued that it
ultra vires section 23 of the Telecommunications Act and that it was
made in breach of the rules of natural justice.

.. The court found that when BTL changed from coin operated public
boxes to pre-paid operated public call boxes it did not consult the
Director of Telecommunications as required by Condition 5.5 of
BTL's licence but that the requirement in the Stop Order directing
BTL to programme all pre-paid public call boxes to accept pre-paid cards
at fifteen cents per call until further notice did not secure compliance
with Condition 5.5 of BTL's licence and should be removed from the
Stop Order.

.. The court also found that BTL did not adequately consult the
prior to increasing telephone rates with effect from 1st December, 2001
and as such the price increases were illegal.

.. The court held that the Stop Order is accordingly valid. The
of this judgment is that BTL has to go back to the rates which were in
force before December 1st, 2001.

.. The Government was represented by the Solicitor General, Mr.
Kaseke and Ms Minnet Hafiz, Crown Counsel, and BTL was represented by
Learned Senior Counsel Ms Lois Young-Barrow.

#59503 - 11/27/02 01:47 AM Re: Court orders B.T.L. to roll back rates
Short Offline
Who cares, we changed to carrier pigeons. It's the latest innovation, reliable and the P.U.C. doesn't charge for that yet.
Live and let live

#59504 - 11/27/02 02:16 AM Re: Court orders B.T.L. to roll back rates
Short Offline
Did i mention that you can complain about BTL with PUC (Public Utilities Commission). at: http://www.puc.bz/complaints.asp
Live and let live

#59505 - 11/27/02 02:48 AM Re: Court orders B.T.L. to roll back rates
Beachy Offline
and there was much rejoicing.
my bet's that I'll never see that money again. But you'll be seeing me switch even if the rates are the same, I've had enough of BTL, or rather, they've gotten enough of me.
Casa Picasso celebrated three yearsthis May, thanks to all of you!
Chris and Jen

#59506 - 11/27/02 08:07 AM Re: Court orders B.T.L. to roll back rates
ohiolazo Offline
I regret that I am ignorant of the Belizean judiciary system. However, how can a "Supreme Court" decision be appealed? Would it be appealed to the full Supreme Court or is "Supreme Court" not really what it sounds like? No big deal - just interested in learning more about the Belizean systems. Thanks.

#59507 - 11/27/02 10:05 PM Re: Court orders B.T.L. to roll back rates
Short Offline
Beachy, switching is no use; Ashcroft is involved in the competition as well.
Live and let live


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