REPORT #300 June 2000

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

(a quote from Ambrose Tillet, in the article of May 28, 2000 on Telecom and Government)

Ambrose Tillet wrote a very comprehensive factual article on the play between BTL, it's history, the privatization and government involvement in the issue of May 28, 2000 of the Reporter newspaper, of Belize City.

One important thing in the article was that when government sold off it's controlling interest, the monopoly changed from a statutory government regulated body to a monopoly that was owned by private foreign interests geared solely to profit. The disturbing thing was that the government failed to put legislative changes in place to keep a predatory investment monopoly, controlled within a regulatory framework.

The article further states that the government is legally bound by GATS to do certain things. These can be found at: and Belize's submission is GATS/SC/10/soppl.l.

The government of Belize is legally bound to implement a phased-in liberalization of the telecom marketplace in Belize. They are legally bound to allow open competition. When they privatized BTL without safeguarding these RIGHTS and obligations, they goofed and badly.

BTL does under contract get basic telecommunications services. These never included internet services though, as these were a product of inventiveness and establishment by Corozal Community College with a U.K., advisor long after the telephone system and BTL was established with it's basic services. ISP services did not exist in Belize at that time. The government acording to Ambrose Tillet, and I agree with the conclusions, is that the PUP government is not really interested in liberalizing the Telecom market. They are just playing mind games with all involved. But it is only by competition that prices can come down.

I personally think the government should regulate some of the telecommunications service rates for the rest of the monopoly contract term. The recommendation of Ambrose Tillet is that government should fulfill it's GATS agreements and accelerate the competitive liberalization timetable. Just the threat of doing so in the United Kingdom forced British Telecom to reduce rates less than a year after competition was introduced. The rates have fell so low, they are now the third lowest in the world.

The government has three basic choices!

1) Let the monopoly stand exploiting the Belizean market and effect what they can in private political deals with the investors for personal gain.
2)Continue as they are doing, which seems to be a sweetheart deal to create private exclusive monopolies of a different type, barring other Belizean open competition.
3) Or open up the internet right now to anybody and fight BTL in court over that right. Eventually, opening telephone services also, once the monopoly contract is up.
Nobody in Belize, would believe the greedy Belize City national politicians would do number three. But you can throw it out there as the honest logical choice.

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