For over fifteen years, BTL has been the sole provider for
communications in this country. You would think that after 15 years, a
company could get its act together. If that were only the case. Instead of
improved service, we constantly receive inferior service at outrageous
prices - while this company collects over $40 million in profits per year -
from a total population of less than 250,000 people. Sporadic Internet
connections, E-mail not received at one end or the other, and let's not
forget the inability to access the most basic of their services - the
ability of being able to place or receive a simple phone call.
So, what is the reason for this company not being able to reliably
provide even the most basic of services they offer? I have yet to find out,
and either no one at BTL has the answers or they are not saying. At this
point, I don't care what THEIR problem is, all I know is, an entire country
is being forced to pay for a service that is sporadic at best and this
situation has to end.
So what are our options, introduce competition? Sounds good in theory
but you see, BTL does not want this and they seem to be getting their way.
They cannot agree on inter-connection rates with a rival company. Besides,
what good will interconnection do but pass on the inefficiencies of one
company (BTL) to another? The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) finally
stepped in to set the rates, but BTL did not agree with them either and has
taken the matter to court, prolonging the existence of this monopoly. It
seems this company is much bigger than the people it serves and above the
regulatory body that is empowered to oversee it. And, let's not forget - a
government that seems to have its head buried in the sand while private
individuals and businesses lose revenue because of overpriced incompetence.
It would seem that a government, that in one day, can pass a highly
controversial (and many say unconstitutional) law, that takes away EVERY
citizen's rights to sue a foreign-owned electricity company who is building
a dam, could do something to protect the citizens they are sworn to serve.
According to the new Macal Hydroelectric Development Act, it does not
matter if the dam works or not, breaks and wipes out entire villages and
towns, destroys the environment or pollutes the river - the electric
company is not responsible and cannot be taken to court no matter if the
damage was intentional or not. So, why are our elected officials taking no
action while the entire population of this country suffers financial loss?
Why are they allowing a foreign-owned company to destroy a tourism economy
that the private sector works so hard to sustain? What good does all the
promotion of this country as a tourism destination do when businesses
cannot respond to hotel reservations and other bookings, simply because
they cannot receive E-mails or phone calls or reply to the interested
party. All because of the continuing incompetence of a supposed
Maybe we need to break it down to our elected officials, exactly how
much income businesses are losing because of Lord Ashcroft's company and
how much in tax dollars that translates into. We could make it very simple
for them to understand, we'll just break it down to how many new cars and
drivers our elected officials could have, or how many new houses they could
own. That might get their attention. If that doesn't do it, maybe we should
start charging government a revenue replacement tax to cover our losses.
So you might ask, what solution do I have? Well, I don't have one. In
order to have a solution you must first know what the REAL problem is. So
far, no one at BTL seems to want to identify it or give an honest answer to
any questions. I also feel that it isn't up to me to come up with a
solution. After all, I haven't been the monopoly providing communications
for the last fifteen years. I don't have a staff of hundreds of so-called
"professionals," nor have I raked in $40 million per year in profits. Also,
I was not one of the people running for political office who promised to
find solutions to our communications problems. I have no authority or power
to make the necessary changes or laws to end this "circus". My only
recourse is to write and urge our elected officials in Belmopan to get off
their back-sides and do their jobs, and I urge everyone to do the same.
There is an old saying, "You can't serve two masters." Maybe it's time
government realizes, "You can't serve two lords."