GOB Release: Copy of Musa/BTL Accommodation Agreement

September 6, 2009

WOW!

These documents are amazing.  They talk about exclusive rights to do business and to infrastructure (ARCOS), VoIP, guaranteed profits, tax breaks, sweet property deals… BTL’s raping of Belizeans is breathtaking – and here is the proof – plain and simple.

http://www.governmentofbelize.gov.bz/accomm_agreement.html


Reporter – Nice Editorial on BTL State Of Affairs

August 16, 2008

Original:

http://www.reporter.bz/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=2966&Itemid=

By Harry Lawrence – Publisher

It is clear to the man on the street that Belize Telemedia Limited may be acting under instructions from the man who says he no longer controls B.T.L., Mr. Michael Ashcroft.

Mr. Ashcroft is the only person who has an interest in silencing Channel 7 and Kremandala TV.B.T.L. supplies Channel 5 with fiber-optic cable access because it owns Channel 5.

B.T.L. does not own the fiber-optic cable line to Belize. But it is the only company with access to this line, through its corporate headquarters on St. Thomas Street.

B.T.L. paid a lot for this fiber-optic trunk-line connection, and the company is not now willing to share it with others who are not of its ilk.

The underwater fiber-optic line is owned by a provider who is willing to splice in another trunk line, but the fee for this service is U.S. one million.

There are compelling reasons why Belize should get this second link, and we shall try to explain them here:

1. Belize Telemedia Limited has a monopolistic strangle-hold on fiber-optics in Belize. It uses this strangle-hold to reward its friends and punish the competition.

2. B.T.L. uses its strangle hold to promote the Belize Bank and its operations, not only with cheap telephone calls and unlimited Internet access, but it holds the rest of the business community to ransom by:

(a) charging exhorbitant fees for domestic and overseas calls,

(b) refusing to offer voice over internet protocol in Belize, thereby stunting the growth of communications and other communication – related businesses.

(c) enjoying an ufair advantage over all other businesses, who are forced to pay B.T.L.’s high rates.

(d) allowing the Belize Bank, or some related entity operating from 60 Market Square to grab a large chunk of the fiber-optic capacity for the dot Bz domain-name activities such as on-line gambling and tele-marketing.

(e) Because these activities are regarded as offshore businesses, B.T.L. and its Belize Bank associates pay no taxes whatsoever on what is seen as a multi-million dollar empire of smut and gambling.

(f) B.T.L. has thus become a law unto itself; a corporation operating independently within a government, thumbing its nose at the government.

(g) Telecommunications is an essential industry. Those who control it control the country’s development.

Having a second fiber-optic trunk line would end the B.T.L. monopoly. It would open up VOIP options for the entire country. It would give new scope to independent competition in the media and to new telecommunication players who might want to come in. It would save the country and government millions of dollars in lower fees. A second fiber-optic trunk line would clip B.T.L.’s wings and usher in a new dawn of cheaper telecommunications.

There is one obstacle however – money!

But if the Government of Belize could find a way to partner with the private sector, perhaps they could together manage the down-payment for another fiber-optic trunk line, and share the profits.

It appears to be a gilt-edged investment.


Channel 7 – John Avery Replaces Roberto Young as PUC Chairman

April 18, 2008

Story is really about the BEL rates hikes, but it also means that a career BTL man is out…

Original Story:

http://www.7newsbelize.com/printstory.php?func=print&nid=10968

The Public Utilities Commission is in the middle of a very tense Annual Review Process (ARP) with BEL, but the man who’s been the Chairman for the past two years, Roberto Young is leaving that post. Information reaching 7NEWS is that John Avery will take up the post as chairman as early as next week. Avery will leave his post as editor of The Guardian which, reports say, will now be taken up by Channel 7 alum, Alfonso Noble.


Channel 7 – Mike Ashcroft May Sell Controlling Interests in BTL

April 2, 2008

http://www.7newsbelize.com/sstory.php?nid=10839

The Barrow Administration and the Belize Bank are presently locked in a dispute over US$10 million in grant funds from the government of Venezuela. On March 15th the Central Bank instructed the Belize Bank to return the US$10 million to government in 10 days or face the possibility of criminal charges being brought against President Phil Johnson.

Since then, a ten day extension has been granted, and that expires on Thursday. But best information suggests that the Bank will go to court to seek some relief from the directive before the extension expires.

So while there will clearly be a battle between government and Michael Ashcroft’s Belize Bank for the US$10 million, reports to 7NEWS indicate that Ashcroft may not be as ready to fight over BTL. Multiple senior sources tell 7NEWS that Ashcroft is inclined to sell off his controlling interests in BTL. He reportedly communicated this to the Prime Minister before Easter.

Government expects to see definitive progress towards this within the next three months. But, at this time, it is not a done deal, and indications are that the company is being shopped around. Now, who will buy it and under what covenants? Those are the tricky questions because best reports suggest that there are a number of consequential side agreements – including one for a guaranteed rate of return.

Those were signed by the last government and the current government knows nothing about them and claims to not even have copies of them. Many issues, and the Prime Minister’s press secretary will have a press conference tomorrow at which he will discuss the latest on efforts to recover the Venezuelan money.


Anchor Free Website Blocked

March 29, 2008

The anchor free website (www.anchorfree.com) is blocked from Belize.  Thanks for the good ole cencorship BTL.


Reporter – Corporate fight brewing over ownership of telecom towers

February 23, 2008

Original Story

http://www.reporter.bz/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=2596

By Adolph Lucas Jr. – Staff Reporter

A corporate fight is brewing between powerhouse Telemedia Ltd. and Southern Cable Net investor Mike Duncker over eighteen steel towers once owned by Intelco.

Cable Investor Mike Duncker claims that he bought the land with the towers from the DFC at auction. But Telemedia, the telephone giant, insist that the towers belong to them.

Darren Duncker told the Reporter that the row over the tower occurred on Monday 11 February over the 240 foot steel tower located at Mile 8. Eight employees of Telemedia were in the process of taking down the tower, piece by piece. The police stepped in to stop .

“The tower and the land were bought at a DFC auction last year.” Dunker said. The title papers prove that Mike Dunker owns them.

On Tuesday, February 12 at La Democracia, where there is another tower we saw armed BDF ean and two KBH men – one of which was also armed,” Darren Duncker told Reporter.

The Dunckers’ had to call in the police again and the BDF and KBH guards were removed because Duncker was able to show proof that he had bought the land and all of the erections thereon.

The dispute continued on Thursday 14 February, Valentine’s Day. The Dunckers had placed locks on the building. They claim that BTL had sent men to break these locks and install their own locks.

Hezron Cadle, a director of Southern Cable Net Ltd told the Reporter, “B.T.L has no right to enter those premises. We own all the Intelco Towers.”

The tower at Mile 8 is a part of a network of 18 towers formerly owned by Intelco.

Duncker bought the land and the erections at a public auction authorized by the Development Finance Corporaton. Southern Cable Net Limited has plans to do what -20Intelco tried to do and failed. Southern Cable wants the network of towers for a networ of cellularl phones it intend to introduce.

According to Cadle, Southern Cable Net has a system which is far superior to B.T.L’s system. The company plans to introduce a telephone network using voice over Internet protocol or VOIP. It plans to take on BTL in head-on competition.

The Reporter has made several attempts to contact Telemedia’s Manager of Marketing and Sales, Mrs. Karen Bevans for comments, but was unable to reach her.


Reporter – Barrow’s Cabinet takes Oath of Office

February 23, 2008

Original Story:

http://www.reporter.bz/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=2580&Itemid=2

By Niall Gillett – News Editor

Governor General Sir Colville Young swars in the new Cabinet comprised of 12 Ministers and five assistants at his residence in Belmopan.

The 16 chosen Ministers and Ministers of State of the new United Democratic Party Government were sworn in today, Tuesday February 12, at the residence of the Governor General in the Capital City, Belmopan.

Crammed into the small welcoming room with their families, friends and the media, they officially took on the tasks of their portfolios with a signature and a handshake from the Governor General, Sir Colville Young.

They walked down the curved driveway to be reunited with and to be greeted by crowds of their supporters, waiting to congratulate them. That afternoon, the leaders of the new government met in the Cabinet Room to begin the first official business of the day.

The programme started at about 10:15 AM with the entrance of the Governor General, Sir Colville Young. He noted that although it is not a big priority on the Government’s list, the tightly packed room needed to be made bigger.

For expediency, he asked that all swear the Oath together, rather than one at a time, and then invited each member individually to sit at the table for the signing.

After the signatures were all complete, Prime Minister Dean Barrow, who was sworn in last Friday, addressed the Governor General and thanked him, reaffirming his pledge to have his Government conduct itself in an open, fair and transparent manner.

In an interview with Prime Minister Barrow after the ceremony, he told the Reporter that he and the members of Cabinet would start their first meeting discussing the various Rules and Articles of Conduct of the Cabinet.

He said it was important for the members to treat not only their fellow colleagues with mutual respect, but also the members of the Public Service. He said that they would also have an overview of Belize’s financial situation to presented by the Financial Secretary, Joseph Waight, a leftover from the previous government.

He said his administration would attempt to set a date for the inaugural First sitting of the National Assembly.

Asked about the promise for lower fuel costs, Prime Minister Barrow responded that it was his government’s plan to do away with the current Revenue Replacement Duty.

RRD on fuel, and replace it with fairer, flat tax.

He explained that this could be done in the first 90 days of the new government, provided that all legal requirements to make the changes are met.

He confirmed his pledge – to empower the Public Utilities Commision (PUC), and make changes to the currently restricted use of Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) technology in Belize.

Finally Prime Minister Barrow repeated his promise to keep the public informed about decisions made by his government, and to improve relations with the media.

Prime Minister Barrow said that he had originally conceived of four Ministers of State, but after Michael Hutchinson had done what he did in defeating the PUP incumbent, Ralph Fonseca, he promptly revised his plan and appointed him to be a Minister of State.

Hutchinson will serve as Minister of State in the Ministry of Local Government, which is headed by Minister Garbriel Martinez.