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Feb 25, 2010

Telemedia profits, but govt hasn’t paid previous owners

btlTwo weeks ago you heard the Prime Minister warn that this financial year is going to be the hardest for his government. But judging by this week’s issue of the government’s newspaper, GOB will shortly be seven point five million dollars richer. The newspaper reported that the new board of directors of Telemedia would be declaring a forty percent dividend at its annual general meeting tonight, thereby ensuring that the profits of the company are returned to the shareholders. What it didn’t say is that government holds ninety-four percent of the shares in Telemedia, making it the super-majority shareholder. This means that of the eight million dollars to be shared out as dividends, seven point five million dollars will go into government coffers even when the former shareholders of Telemedia have still not been paid compensation for their shareholdings and GOB’s debt to them is racking-up interest as we speak. And will these fresh millions be used to raise salaries of the teachers or simply disappear into the black hole of government? The government said that the nationalization of Telemedia was to end litigation and benefit Belizeans. Well, litigation has noticeably increased at taxpayers’ expense. Phone bills are not going down and neither is there access to VOIP to reduce telecommunications cost. The obvious question is how are taxpayers benefitting?  We will find out that answer at tonight’s AGM.

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