Government and BTL go at it again

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 12, No. 7            February 21, 2002

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"Two steps forward, three steps back" as the saying goes. It is now the Belize Supreme Court Chief Justice's turn to make a move in the monopoly game being played out between the Government of Belize and Belize Telecommunications Limited (BTL). According to a release issued last week from the Ministry of Budget Management, Investment and Public Utilities, on Tuesday, February 12th, Chief Justice Abdulai Conteh granted BTL leave to apply for a judicial review of a Stop Order issued by Minister Ralph Fonseca of Public Utilities. In granting this leave, the Chief Justice suspended the Stop Order until a full hearing of the case by judicial review. It was stated the Chief Justice did not revoke the Stop Order; he has merely suspended it, pending the hearing which is expected to take place in the next few weeks.

    In a related release by BTL, the telecommunications monopoly informed their customers of the following: "On Tuesday, February 12th, 2002, the Court ruled that there are grounds to accept BTL's application for leave of judicial review of Statutory Instrument No. 11 of 2002, which contained a Stop Order. The Court also ruled that the effect of the Statutory Instrument be suspended and any action by the Minister, in relation to the Statutory Instrument, be stayed until the matter is fully determined by the Court."

    The BTL release continued, "As a result of this decision of the Court, BTL is no longer compelled by the Statutory Instrument and will therefore keep to the new rates it had implemented on December 1, 2001. As a consequence, all bills with effect from January 1, 2002, will be issued at these rates as shown below," (shown were the rates previously implemented December 1, 2001).
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