FORTIS personnel skipped out of BEL from late last week - and yesterday evening, the company issued a terse release from their headquarters in Canada.
Devoid of either emotion or venom, it casually reports that Government has, quote "Expropriated Fortis Ownership of Belize Electricity Limited."
It adds that the order dismissed the Fortis Directors on the Company's Board and states that compensation remains to be determined.
The release underscores the fact that quote, "Fortis also owns BECOL, a non-regulated hydroelectric generation business that operates three hydroelectric generating facilities in Belize," and states, with some satisfaction that, quote "No expropriation order has been served in respect of BECOL."
The release confirms that the assets of BEL represented less than 2% of the total assets of Fortis, which are valued at 13 billion dollars.
And while the tone of that release was dispassionate almost - it seemed - to the point of disinterest, we can't say the same for a release, which came steaming out of the Government Press Office today.
It is a response to the Belize Chamber of Commerce's almost unhinged condemnation of the BEL acquisition yesterday. And like the Chamber's release, it is no holds barred.
It says that, quote, "The Chamber took such extraordinary liberties with the facts that Government feels obliged to both correct and condemn the Chamber."
It states that "The suggestion that there was an abuse of Parliamentary procedure in the summoning of a special sitting of the National Assembly, is patent nonsense."
It then turns to the so-called promise of twenty days that the Prime Minister gave to BEL to come to a decision. The government release states that "there was never any such promise…and in all the circumstances….To have waited longer would have been playing Russian roulette with the national interest."
Referring to how the acquisition affects the national debt, the release adds that "Government was already guarantor to BEL's liabilities and so would have had to assume the debts in any case because of the imminent default."
The release stresses that Chamber President Kay Menzies was also a Fortis director and closes with a flourish, saying "the Chamber's rant puts it on the wrong side of Belizean public opinion and the wrong side of Belizean democracy."
The international rating agency Standard and Poor's is satisfied that Government acquired BEL to ensure the continuity of the country's electricity supply. It said so in a press release yesterday. But that's the best that can be drawn from the release as it also warns that it may be cutting the "sovereign credit rating for Belize," because the BEL acquisition could affect the country's overall debt.
S&P warns that Belize's "ratings would be lowered to 'B-minus' upon the conclusion of this transaction."
But that's probably the least concern of Prime Minister Dean Barrow who is in Guatemala City tonight at the First International Conference in Support of Central American Security Strategy. It's a major hemispheric conference with about 50 delegations participating. Prime Minister Barrow is there to discuss security issues, but more urgently to have a sidebar meeting with Mexican President Felipe Calderon. Barrow is expected to ask for an extension of credit facilities from Mexico's state - owned power company CFE to Belize's now state own power company, BEL.
PM Barrow is expected to return to the country tomorrow.