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Sep 2, 2015

Electricity Acquisition Settlement Bill Passed in One Sitting

Today’s special sitting of the House of Representatives included matters of routine housekeeping, the introduction of one bill and the passage of two bills and two loan motions through the House. But by far the show-stopper today was the passage of the Electricity Acquisition Settlement Bill in one sitting. The Prime Minister announced on Monday that G.O.B. and Fortis, the former owners of B.E.L., had reached a settlement of terms and all haste is being made to facilitate payment of seventy million to Fortis as well as the transfer of thirty-three point three percent of shares. The Bill was introduced by the Prime Minister, who explained that the settlement reached closes a circle opened by nationalization – a nationalization he says was made necessary not only for ideological reasons, but for practical ones.

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

 “Nobody must forget that when we nationalized B.E.L. the country had been threatened certainly was facing the prospect of rolling blackouts. B.E.L. at that time had reached an impasse with the P.U.C. the body set up under the law in this country to regulate utility companies and to hold the balance even between the companies and the consuming public. B.E.L. at the time appeared to us to be illiquid and in our view and we were I believe supported in our position by the vast majority of Belizeans; in our view the national interest demanded that we act to safeguard the well being of the economy and the citizenry of this country. Now here it is that despite what the critics and the naysayers had to say at the time, here it is that we have indicated, completed the circle, and are today about the business of passing an act which will see the challenge of Fortis the company from which we acquired the shares; withdraw its CCJ challenge, withdraw its questioning the legitimacy of the acquisition and confirm and underline as is mandated by the constitution of the country that now and forevermore, B.E.L. in the majority will belong to the people and government of this country.”

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