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Jun 28, 2018

Government Signs Off to Guarantee a Loan from Taiwan for B.T.L.

Belize Telemedia Limited has spent forty million Belize dollars rolling out its National Broadband Plan.  The project commenced in San Pedro in July 2017 and now the company wants to replace its outdated copper network with fiber network to the entire country. So government turned to Taiwan for a thirty-five-million-dollar loan for which it is providing an unconditional guarantee. News Five’s Hipolito Novelo was at the signing and files the following report. 

 

Hipolito Novelo, Reporting

A seventeen point five million U.S. dollars loan from the Taiwanese Government through the International Cooperation Development Fund was secured for Belize Telemedia. The terms and conditions of the loan included the provision by the Government of an irrevocable and unconditional loan guarantee. While parliament approved the guarantee few months ago, today the documents were officially signed.

 

Joseph Waight

Joseph Waight, Financial Secretary

“It’s a requirement for the loan agreement where the majority of the owner will you underwrite the loan while it may be critical and large for B.T.L.  It is relatively small for the Government of Belize. But essentially it was a security for the loan so it can be processed and disbursed very quickly.”

 

According to B.T.L.’s C.E.O. Rochus Schreiber the total estimated cost of the project is ninety six million Belize dollars. The remaining funds were obtained through a loan from a local bank and the company’s cash flow.

 

Rochus Schreiber

Rochus Schreiber, C.E.O., B.T.L.

“This financing was coming from the operating cash flow. So what we are saying is that we able to roll out this plan on our own. However, we see demand in the country, our customers Belizeans they want to have this access to fast internet to topnotch quality communications quickly as possible. So instead of rolling it out over number of years, with the loan we are able to accelerate the roll and complete it by next year.”

 

And by next year, the country will be ‘fiberized.’

 

Nestor Vasquez

Nestor Vasquez, Chairman, B.T.L.

“The plan is to, he used the word “fiberize” first time I ever heard that, but at any rate it means that we will connect the entire country with fiber. Not only the towns, but also the villages. And we will provide not only the telephone service we will also provide, most importantly, the internet and we will provide television. There is another fourth service that only the C.E.O. can tell you about right now. That is significant because this project will be as important like how every home has electricity.”

 

Like electricity, broadband speed is no longer a luxury but a necessity.

 

Ivan Tesecum

Ivan Tesecum, Chief Financial Officer, B.T.L.

“Studies have shown that for every ten percent in broadband connectivity there is an increase in GDP of one point three eight percent. This means for Belize it is a robust and good path to economic growth and activity. It also means that for Belizeans throughout the countries in Belize, the infrastructure that is being laid with the support of this loan from Taiwan ICDF also parallels and gives them the ability to experience speeds that rival any jurisdiction through the world.”

 

Timothy Hsiang

Timothy Hsiang, Taiwan ICDF Secretary General

“In the process of discussing with B.T.L., I can feel strongly that B.T.L., the fast response and our activities that we working together let me feel that not only the Government itself but BTL as well have strong determination to develop ICT related industry or sectors. There is a sector reason I am very happy because I am here today to join the very important national development in Belize.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Hipolito Novelo.

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