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May 27, 2005

B.T.L. deadline approaches, pressure mounts on employees

And last on the long list of hot topics on the table at today’s Cabinet briefing was an update to ongoing negotiations between Belmopan and the employees of B.T.L. regarding the latter’s acquisition of thirty-seven point five percent of the telecommunications company shares. According to Minister of Foreign Affairs and Information, Godfrey Smith, financing continues to elude the workers, leaving them with limited options, among them, money from B.T.L.’s previous owner, Michael Ashcroft. Smith says as the deadline in early June rapidly approaches, the government will have to take matters into its own hands.

Godfrey Smith
?If by early next week we don?t have anything new in relation to the workers, any new permutation of a proposal, then we are going to have to come up with a proposal which will involve substantial participation on behalf of the workers and management of B.T.L. But we can?t just sit by and have nothing done.?

?We have spoken to a number of banks, locally and internationally, and nobody will bite. At the end of the day, our technical people, our advisors say you have to settle this B.T.L matter for a number of reasons, not only because we have debt payments to make, but because it affects the entire investment climate and so on. It is something we need to settle.?

In related news, this morning Attorney General Francis Fonseca informed the press that as of mid-May, G.O.B. had paid some four hundred thousand U.S. dollars to the law firm of Hunton and Williams. The money is for representation in the case in a Miami Federal courtroom between Belmopan and Innovative Communications Corporation’s Jeffrey Prosser over claims that include breech of contract over control of Belize Telecommunications Limited.

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