Anyone wishing to voice their displeasure regarding
the Belize Telecommunications Limited (BTL) December 1st rate increases will have their chance
next week. The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has scheduled hearings at the
Radisson Fort George Hotel in the Lamanai Room for Tuesday, December
11th. In order for the
general public, and BTL, to offer five-minute oral presentations or written
submissions of their complaints, a morning session will be held from 10:00 a.m.
to 12 noon and an afternoon session from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m.
This hearing is in compliance with section 15 of the
Public Utilities Commission Act, Chapter 223 of the Substantive Laws of Belize,
Revised Edition 2000. This section pertains to hearings on complaints received
in respect to "electricity, telecommunications and radio communication, water
and sewerage rates, or the rates of any other public utility- that such person
shall make a complaint to the Commission which shall thereafter proceed to deal
with such complaint..." in conjunction with other subsections. Although BTL has
an exclusive contract, the PUC may be able to intervene on the public's behalf
because of their complaints. Section 15, subsection (2) states, "Whenever the
Commission, after receiving a complaint under subsection (1), and holding a
hearing in respect of that complaint, finds that any existing rates of a public
utility complained of are unjust or unreasonable or contrary to the law, the Commission
shall determine the fair and reasonable rates
(including maximum and minimum rates) to be thereafter observed by the public
utility provider and shall fix and declare the same by Order to be served on the
public utility provider and such rates shall constitute the legal rates of the
public utility in substitution of rates (previously) submitted to the Commission
under section 12."
As reported two weeks ago
in this newspaper, as of December 1st, businesses and the general population must suffer BTL rate hikes 2 1/2
times what they were paying just to have a phone line and a rental phone. Line
access and maintenance fees are now $50 for businesses compared to the previous
$20; and $20 for residences compared to the previous $8 charge. The previous $40
charge for eight "FREE" hours of Internet usage will now cost $24 PLUS ten cents
per minute for the first twelve hours and five cents per minute after that.
Essentially, Internet now costs $72 for the first eight hours of usage instead
of the previous rate of $40. Simply put, besides the $24 access fee, rates will
increase to $6 per hour up to 12 hours and decrease after twelve hours to $3 per
hour as opposed to the previous $4.
urges the public to submit their complaints before Tuesday by e-mail at
email@example.com, by fax 02-71149 or in person at the hearing.