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Jan 5, 2011

P.M. on arbitration award and Telemedia

Prime Minister Dean Barrow hasn’t had a press conference for some time, but he had a mini one this morning. After an appearance on Love FM, members of the press met the PM. He was questioned on a number of hot button issues that range from the BTL shares to the new CJ and those soaring fuel prices. On the matter of the BTL shares, PM Barrow said that nearing the end of December, which was the deadline to purchase shares, Belizeans showed interest in investing in the company.  Because of that, he says, the government will extend the offer for a longer period.  But when questioned on the recent arbitral award of forty-three million dollars by Justice John Muria, Barrow said the Government stands a good chance of winning an appeal of that judgment.

Dean Barrow

“Apart from the fifty million dollars bought by SSB, the good Belizean people, small man and small woman bought four and a half million dollars worth.  Given the campaign against the sale we are absolutely pleased with that, there was a last minute flurry towards the close of the year.  As a consequence, as soon as we are able to number the share certificates and have them prepared so that all those who bought up to December thirty first can come in and collect their shares certificates, we will announce an extension of the offer for perhaps forty five days or so.”

Jules Vasquez

“But no strategic investor at this time?”

Dean Barrow

“No, we had the meeting with the Taiwanese; they sent a mission just before Christmas.  They’ve gone back to report.  I have had a message sent me by a local business corporate interest that indicates that that interest would perhaps want to contemplate being the strategic investor, maybe in conjunction with a number of other business interests, but I’m yet to discuss with the principal, who’s currently away.  It does seem though, and that would be wonderful if actually we could get a Belizean or a number of big Belizeans to play the role of the strategic partner.”

Jules Vasquez

“Have you all gotten any instrument to block the enforcement of this arbitral award for the BCB?”

Dean Barrow

“No, I was sent a draft of the grounds of appeal from our Counsel Mister Michael Young last night and I see that he’s up to fourteen grounds and I’m told that he might not even stop there.  The reading of the judgment is yielding such tremendous bounty in terms of the legal principles.  But that will be filed today and then it is on the back of that that you make the application for the stay.  In going for the stay you have to show that you have a reasonable prospect of success in the appeal. I don’t know that it would have made any difference had we had a lawyer there at the ridiculous millions and millions and millions of dollars in costs that that would have incurred.  I believe the arbitral decision was a clear hometown decision and I am reluctant to, in any way, appear to be disrespectful of Mister Justice Muria, but when he will say for example, that on this question of public policy, you establish public policy if you show that the agreement that led to the award that is now being sought to be enforced would have shocked the public consciousness and that he didn’t think that that kind of arrangement would shock the Belizean consciousness; I have to say that I am confident that our prospects on appeal are absolutely encouraging.”

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