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Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,400
Marty Offline OP
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Chamber says, "The future of B.T.L. is fraught with uncertainties."

As we have reported, the Social Security Board is required by government to invest fifty million dollars of pension funds in Telemedia. According to the PM, the prospectus will be released on October fifteenth. The full SSB is yet to meet to decide on whether or not the investment is prudent but the clock is ticking and it looks like the cauldron is boiling over. Earlier today, the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which has a representative on the SSB, raised a fundamental question about the haste with which it has to make the fifty million dollar decision when it is still not privy to the pertinent information about the share price, the ownership structure or the value of the assets. According to the BCCI, "the future of BTL is fraught with uncertainties which increased the risk to the fund." The BCCI is asking for a copy of the prospectus, a technical audit of the status of the network, three separate legal opinions on any claim that may impede the profitability of Telemedia. BCCI's Marketing and Public Relations Manager, Vanessa Peyrefitte, told News Five more about the chamber's position.

Vanessa Peyrefitte, Marketing/Public Relations Manager, BCCI

Vanessa Peyrefitte

"The Chamber's position on the sale of the B.T.L. Shares is pretty simple. It is us asking the government if they can provide us with some basic information that would assist in determining if this is a good decision to make, which is invest public funds into the sale or into the purchasing of shares at B.T.L. At the end of the day this is public funds and you know what has happened in the past with public funds, various instances. So in order to be responsible, there’s this thing called corporate responsibility and I think that's exactly what the Chamber is doing right now, asking for an audit of the assets, the investment prospectus and other things like that so at the end of the day we can look it and we can say okay yes, we think that this is a good decision to make or there may be some sticking points that need to be addressed. At the end of the day we prefer that this decision to purchase shares in B.T.L. not be a very hasty, quick decision and then at the end of the day maybe in the future there may be things that happen that negatively impact that industry and then it's not just a private investor's money that's affected in that. It's going to be my money and your money because our tax payers' dollars go into S.S.B."

We do note that under existing legislation, there is no restriction on the number of telecoms licenses that can be issued. So if one large foreign operator took a share of the market, Telemedia's revenue would reduce and the SSB's investment would be exposed. There is also word that government is now considering to go back to the nineteen percent telecommunication tax that, by its own volition, it increased to twenty-four point five percent when Telemedia was privately owned.

Channel 5

Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,400
Marty Offline OP
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Barrow Makes His Case on BTL To Unions

Prime Minister Dean Barrow met with the leaders of the national trade union congress of Belize today. A release from the government this evening said that they discussed the proposed amendments to the labour act, the collective bargaining agreement negotiation and the sale of BTL shares by the government.

The release states that the meeting was cordial and respectful, and on the issue of the sale of the BTL shares, the explained why government has chosen to take the course it has.

That course includes offering the Social Security Board a sizeable chunk of the shares. The NTUCB, which sits on the investment committee, voted against the proposal as did the chamber of commerce.

On Friday night on this newscast, you heard the prime minister concede that perhaps those social partners should have been supplied with the prospectus before they were asked to vote on the sale.

And while they wanted the prospectus - in its press release the PUP pointed to what it called an incestuous relationship between Net Vasquez, the executive chairman of BTL, who is also the chair of the investment committee, and Lois Young, the secretary of the BTL board of directors and the chairman of the social security board of directors.

Speaking with us on Friday, the Prime Minister deflected the criticism and urged the social partners not to be distracted by it:..

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"Man, a conflict of interest is a situation in which you are either as a matter of fact or potentially involve in a scenario in which you use or can use your position for gain in which you use or can use your vote for some kind of personal enrichment. The chairman of Telemedia has nothing to gain from the sale of Telemedia shares and the fact that he is also the chairman of the investment committee of Social Security is neither here nor there it is not Telemedia selling the shares or wanting to sell the shares to Social Security, it is the government of Belize so any lawyer worth his salt that doesn't have an agenda and is not prepared to be dishonest will tell you that it is ridiculous to suggest that Net Vasquez is in any conflict of interest position. But for God sake I will them to concentrate those concerns on what is legitimate. Don't be side track for example by the PUP and this conflict of interest nonsense, please, the presumption must be in favor of Social Security investment in Telemedia, for God sake this is why we took the damn thing away from Aschroft to stop the chance taking ultimately with the objective of giving it back to the Belizean people. Social Security represents lot of workers and small people, if they are going to be pusillanimous; if they are going to be afraid of their own shadow, I really think then that will contribute to undoing what was an absolutely first weight exercise in my view in terms of nationalism."

The investment committee approved the BTL proposal with the chairman having to use his casting vote to gain a majority. It has not yet gone to the full Social Security Board of Directors´┐Ż

Channel 7

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