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Nov 1, 2016

Financial Secretary Says “No Setback” in Foreign Exchange Over B.T.L. Compensation

Joseph Waight

Compensation for Belize Telemedia Limited has been scheduled in two payments, the first of which was initially disbursed on July eighth.  We say initially because that sum was returned to the Government of Belize when the Caribbean Court of Justice ruled in favor of Dunkeld and the B.T.L. Employees Trust.  Both entities are part of the Ashcroft Group and are listed as previous shareholders of the utility company.  While the settlement agreement laid out the terms of payment, as well as a timetable, the parties disagreed on the currency in which the quantum was to be paid.  The resulting disagreement prompted yet another round of litigation, this time at the Caribbean Court of Justice. The crux of the matter, according to Senior Counsel Eamon Courtenay, in an interview granted to the media in July, was the interpretation of the settlement agreement.  When the CCJ ruled that the payment was to have been made in U.S. dollars, government proceeded to purchase those notes from the Central Bank, amid concerns from then Governor Glenford Ysaguirre.  A total of sixty-seven million U.S. dollars has since been paid to Dunkeld and the B.T.L. Employees Trust.  According to Financial Secretary Joseph Waight, the reserves at the main bank of the nation remain at a record high.

 

Joseph Waight, Financial Secretary

“In the settlement agreement the payments were to be done in two installments.  July 2016, twenty percent.  July 2017, the next fifty percent.  What we saw a couple weeks ago was really, both parties went to the CCJ to determine the currency in which that payment was to have been made.  The government, in July, made payments in a mix of currencies that the receiving party, Dunkeld and the B.T.L. Employees Trust, went to the Caribbean Court of Justice saying that in fact it was not in accordance with the settlement agreement and indeed the Caribbean Court of Justice found it in their favor and therefore ordered the government to accept back the Belize dollars that we had paid, sorry, Belize dollars, convert into U.S. and pay them out.  So it wasn’t an additional payment, it was just, in a sense paying all in U.S. dollars and receiving back from them the Belize dollars we had paid. Which has happened.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Now if I’m not mistaken, that foreign exchange, for lack of a better word, came from the Central Bank of Belize.  Did we suffer any setbacks in terms of our monetary reserves as a result of this chunk payment being made?”

 

Joseph Waight

“I wouldn’t call it a setback.  Basically what happened is that the government purchased the U.S. dollars from the Central Bank, paid it out and as a result the holdings of the Central Bank’s foreign reserve has decreased by that same amount.  It was, the total was something close to sixty million U.S. dollars.  But even after that, the reserves are still at an all-time high.  So but, yes, you are spending U.S. dollars and it is hard to accumulate again, you know.”

 

The remainder of the payment for the B.T.L. compensation is due in July 2017.

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