Today, Belize's water company reverts back to Belizean ownership. Not sure what this means for the country exactly but the GOB should be the new owners starting today.
GOB Takes Over BWSL on Monday
On Monday the government will take over management and control of BWSL,
making it the first time that the government has re-nationalized a company
after privatization and in this case its one that bears the hallmark of a
failed privatization. On Monday the government will pay Cascal US$14.9
million equivalent to 60% percent of the company's share capital. That
US$14.9 million comes in a soft loan from the Taiwanese government.
Government will finance from Cascal the acquisition of the remaining
valued at US$10.9 million over the remaining four years.
It's a big money deal but the bottom line for consumers is that it does
mean lower rates, in fact those rates may continue to increase. But, still
this morning in the national assembly when the government presented a
to formalize the buy back, the PUP members called it an opportunity to
restore Belizean control to a national utility...while for the opposition
was only a way to salvage a costly commercial misadventure.
Rt. Hon. Said Musa, Prime Minister
"Madam Speaker the taking back of the controlling ownership, or majority
control, of BWSL by government, and eventually by the Belizean people, is
being done in response to popular demand. As a responsible and responsive
government we have heeded the call of the Belizean people."
Hon. Patrick Faber, UDP Collet Area Rep.
"Why is it that the government is in this instance trying to make it seem
like they are heeding the demand of the public out there when in fact the
public on so many other occasions have made cries and pleas to the
Rt. Hon. Said Musa,
"I listened to the member for Collet and the truth of the matter is he was
uttering, and I don't think this is un-parliamentary, rubbish. He was
uttering pure unadulterated rubbish when he tried to suggest, well first
all he doesn't understand basic words much less concepts."
Hon. Francis Fonseca, Freetown Area Rep.
"That privatization has not satisfactorily met our goals as a government
so today we are doing the right thing, we are doing the right thing in
55th year of the life of the People's United Party, the greatest most
successful political movement in Belize. We're doing the right thing
our people have asked to do the right thing and we're doing the right
because we understand the critical importance of ensuring that we have
effective water services in Belize."
Hon. Dean Barrow, Opposition Leader
"You will turn around, come to this National Assembly, beat yourself on
chest, and expect us to congratulate you for, you say, attempting to set
right this most grievous error that you committed back in 2000? Give us a
break please Madam Speaker. Cascal kept asking for increases in rates and
got several increases in rates so when the government comes as though well
we have not missed a beat: we sold the water services in 2000, we're
it back in 2005, and Glory Hallelujah nothing has happened. In the
consumers have been burdened by increased rates Madam Speaker without any
commensurate increase in the quality of services. But Cascal was in a
position where it could claim the moral high ground. Cascal could say to
government, or say to the people of Belize it is your government that sold
us a bill of goods. It is your government that therefore has to give us a
rate of return, has to guarantee us dividends of $7.9 million I think it
annually because if they don't do that we will take them to court, that is
what has obliged the buyback. Cascal said to government either you will
us millions by way of damages at the end of the arbitration process,
clearly the government was sure to lose, or you will relieve us from this
burden, you will take back the bill of goods that you sold us on the basis
of fraud. And that is why the government has to buy back the water
Cascal wants to rid itself of the water services because of what it found
when it got there contrary to the representations that had been made by
government. So don't come here and play righteous with the Belizean
Belizean people need to be very conscious of what is happening here and
government cannot be allowed to get away with their smoke and mirrors act
trying to portray what is in fact a fiasco as some kind of triumphalist
that they have engineered."
Hon. Ralph Fonseca, Minister of Public Utilities
"Belizeans do want to own BWSL so we can start on that premise, we all
to that, and that is what this government is accomplishing that no other
government has accomplished with any privatized entity for whatever
So it is a fantastic accomplishment. The Prime Minister has been very
that the majority of these shares will be going to Belizeans and he has
defined Belizeans as being Belizean individuals and Belizean companies
are majority owned by Belizeans."
Rt. Hon. Said Musa,
"I believe this is a very historic motion that we are passing today in
honorable House. Instead of giving credit for the meritorious work of this
government in putting the water company back into the hands of Belizeans,
they prefer to gripe on the other side about things that may have happened
in the past, a lot of it totally distorted as they have put it, and as the
Minister for Public Utilities has clearly laid out the facts, I believe
House will be guided by the facts and will give an overwhelmingly support