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Dec 28, 2001

G.O.B. issues stop order against B.T.L. rates

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This morning the ongoing dispute between the Committee for Action on Public Utilities and Belize Telecommunications Limited took another dramatic turn as G.O.B., in the form of Minister Ralph Fonseca, issued a stop order against the telecommunications’ new rates. In a meeting today between Minister Ralph Fonseca, Attorney General Godfrey Smith, BELTRAIDE Chairman Eamon Courtenay and CAPU, Minister Fonseca announced that the rate structure will not be implemented until the socio-economic impact of the changes can be properly assessed. G.O.B. says under condition number ten of B.T.L.’s license, it was the practice for any revision of tariffs to be agreed between the Minister of Public Utilities and the licensee having regard for the interest of the users. G.O.B. contends B.T.L. has not complied with this condition and practice. Government says CAPU and other concerned citizens brought several valid points to the table that had to be recognised.

Godfrey Smith, Attorney General

“Essentially, in response to that the Minister Responsible for Telecommunications, Honourable Ralph Fonseca, indicated that just this morning he had signed, under the telecommunications act, a stop order, which he is authorised to do under section 23 of the act, to put a stop to the proposed telephone increases that B.T.L. has put into effect. That has a period of twenty-eight days before it takes effect, before it kicks in. It is hoped an anticipated that in that period, that the government through its officials and B.T.L. will be able to reach a settlement of the issue.

There were some discussions as well as to the new telecommunications act, which government tabled in the House at its last sitting earlier this month. CAPU made representation that they hope they would have time to look over it to have discussions with the various organisations that are represented on CAPU, to make sure that there is sufficient broad-based community participation on the P.U.C. or on whatever regulatory body is in place under the new act. And government gave its undertaking to ensure that that is done. Both sides agreed that there was need for ongoing consultations on the matter between CAPU and the government as it relates to B.T.L.. But of course, mostly importantly CAPU gave its full endorsement to the stop order that Ralph Fonseca signed into effect on behalf of the government of Belize.”

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