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Jun 22, 2011

GOB says Chamber on wrong side of Belizean public opinion and democracy

Government’s latest fight is with the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry. On Tuesday the Chamber issued a very strong statement against the expropriation of Belize Electricity Limited. The government today responded in kind and threw the Chamber under the bus in a highly explosive and emotional statement. The choice of language is similar to the government’s release made against attorneys representing the previous owners of Telemedia. The release is lengthy, two pages of it, in which it dissects the Chamber’s release point by point. Government says that the Chamber’s complaint about the abuse of parliamentary procedure on the special sitting of the national Assembly is “patent nonsense” that sounds like a politically inspired charge. On the matter of the twenty-one day period to solve the B.E.L. crisis, the release says that the P.M. never gave such a promise. In respect of the suggestion by the chamber that S.S.B. investment in B.E.L. may have been devalued by Government’s exposure of B.E.L.’s insolvency, the government says that rings hollow because the Chamber has had nothing to say about S.S.B.’s inability for a long while to collect dividends from the Fortis-owned B.E.L.

And there is more; according to the government, the Chamber’s assertion that Government acquired B.E.L. as a way of solving a dispute with Fortis is an outright lie since there was never any dispute with GOB. Government also calls into question the loyalty of some members of the Chamber Executive and takes a swipe at its president, Kay Menzies saying that the Chamber has never made official disclosure that Menzies was a Board Member of B.E.L. appointed by Fortis to “serve Fortis’s interest.” The release ends with a flourish on the topic of democracy saying that the Chamber’s rant puts it on the wrong side of Belizean public opinion and the wrong side of Belizean democracy.” The full text of the release be viewed at

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11 Responses for “GOB says Chamber on wrong side of Belizean public opinion and democracy”

  1. Belizean Public! says:

    Chamber is biased, politically motivated, and anti-democratic to most Belizeans using pitiful comments to support its agenda.

  2. I Have Awaken says:

    Belize: Now a true Sodom and Gomorrah!

  3. Lucas says:

    Isn’t this the same chamber that sang Dean’s tune and danced with Barrow when he was the opposition?. Wasn’t this same chamber Oliver’s lap puppy? The attitude of this chamber of commerce reminds me of the dog eating it’s own vomit.

  4. islander says:

    Are we a dictatorship yet? or at the very least a police state?

  5. Belizean Truth says:

    The Chamber is not biased as a collective group although some members have ties to government groups. The Chamber focuses on economic state and the policies that affect that state. The expropriation of both B.T.L. and B.E.L. will serve us no good in coming years as foreign investment will most definitely decrease. Apart from putting this country in more debt that is not serviceable in a 10 year period, the public has assumed the cost of maintaining these companies and the risk of loss should they have to seek dissolution. The risk is too high for the GOB to be gambling with, which will ultimately affect Belize’s future and your children!

  6. Joe says:

    Come on guys, Don’t put “the people” infront of this. Politicians will use this to gain access to whatever they see ahead as good for them. The chamber sees that someone has to foot the bill at the end of the day.
    Who normally gets the shaft?

    We the people!!!!!!!!!! — so don’t let no politician tell you they are doing this for the good of the people.

  7. Maverick says:

    Government Condemns BCCI on Statement on BEL’s Acquisition
    Belmopan, 22nd June, 2011. The Government of Belize takes serious issue with a press release issued yesterday by the Belize Chamber of Commerce. In that release the Chamber disagrees with Government’s acquisition of BEL and expresses the opinion that the acquisition was unnecessary and will hurt investor confidence and saddle Belize with enormous debts. In trying to justify its conclusions, the Chamber took such extraordinary liberties with the facts that Government feels obliged to both correct and condemn the Chamber.
    The suggestion that there was an abuse of Parliamentary procedure in the summoning of a special sitting of the National Assembly, is patent nonsense and sounds like a politically inspired charge. The Standing Orders provide for exactly what was done and there was no violation of either the letter or spirit of the Rules.
    Next, the Chamber alleges that the Prime Minister went back on his promise to give BEL twenty days. But there was never any such promise. The Prime Minister had said that he had been assured by BEL that the last 4 million dollars given by Government would have bought around three weeks grace. As was made clear in the House presentation, though, it turned out that BEL was not addressing the all- important question of non-payment to BELCOGEN. Also, Chamber neglects to refer to the fact that BEL’s CEO Lynn Young had in effect walked off by the Friday when the National Assembly notice went out. In all the circumstances, Government was right to move when it did. To have waited longer would have been playing Russian roulette with the national interest.

  8. Maverick says:

    The Chamber’s supposed concern with SSB’s investment in BEL and how its shares may have been devalued by Government’s exposure of BEL’s insolvency, rings very hollow. The Chamber has had nothing to say about SSB’s inability for a long while to collect dividends from the Fortis-owned BEL. And Government’s acquisition is with a view to returning the company to solvency, which would rescue SSB’s investment.
    The notion that the acquisition does unnecessary and extreme prejudice to Government’s debt burden is also not borne out by the facts. Government was already guarantor to BEL’s liabilities and so would have had to assume the debts in any case because of the imminent default. And there is no reason to believe that the amount of compensation Government will have to pay will be anywhere near as large as the Chamber is making out.
    Finally, the Chamber’s assertion that Government acquired BEL as a way of solving a dispute with Fortis is an outright lie and the Chamber well knows that. There was never any dispute with GOB. The PUC is a separate, autonomous entity subject to the law and public accountability, and cannot be equated with Government. That the Chamber would say falsely and for foreign consumption that Government is arbitrary and nationalized just to prove a point, does the greatest disservice to the investment climate the Chamber claims to be worried about. It also does call into question the loyalty of some members of the Chamber Executive; and Government notes that the Chamber has never made official disclosure of the fact that its president was a Board Member of BEL appointed by Fortis to serve Fortis’s interest.
    Whether the Chamber’s release was driven by raw ideology or there is more to it than that, doesn’t matter. The Chamber is supposed to be a social partner in the nation’s affairs. That designation is wholly inconsistent with its refusal now to accept that an acquisition can ever be justified. But the slightest research or familiarity with the workings of Democracy will show that it is accepted fact that nationalizations in the public interest are a proper tool of responsible, democratic governments. In the circumstances, the Chamber’s rant puts it on the wrong side of Belizean public opinion and the wrong side of Belizean democracy. Government hopes that the position in the press release is not that of the majority of Chamber membership, especially since the release says nothing about how the Chamber would have solved the problem of the disastrous and imminent power cutoffs that forced Government to act.

  9. Maverick says:

    The PUP was judged by the voters in February 2008 for the state of the economy and the massive Superbond that was created with nothing to show for it; and with our major utilities (BTL BEL, BWS, Port, Airport) all sold to private owners. The tide is clearly turning and clearly the motive of excessive profits is in conflict with what is right for the people of Belize.

    The UDP in 2012 will be judged by their own performance which may well include joblessness and an ongoing debt problem, partly inherited, and partly of their own doing with these two acquisitions, but at least we will hopefully regain control of some valuable national assets and can manage them in the best interest of consumers.

  10. CEO says:

    Hey Joe! You are thinking! Remember that the Chamber has no political aspirations but every politician does so they can speak the truth. Does any of you know how you can tell that a politician is lying? Just check if his mouth is moving!

    No government that I know is able to run a utility company profitably the way it should be ran. With that said either they will run it into the ground or they will run a deficit. In the end they will turn around and seel it to one of their cronies! They need to keep utilitie privately owned (with no sweetheart deals) and they need to come up with the necessary regulatory agency to keep them from overcharging the people.

  11. Higher Level says:

    Can someone explain how the government will be able to take BEL out of its debt crisis without raising the cost of electricity? Where will the monies come from to firstly in the interim pay for energy bought from Mexico and secondly, compensation to Fortis for BEL.
    Okay we can say to hell with Fortis and we wont pay, as seems to be the continuing rally cry in respect of BTL. But at the end of the day, these things will have to be paid for.
    Unfortunately we are not a G8 country so we don’t have the muscular flex to tell our creditors that we wont pay our debts. To do that is to further destabilise Belize economically. The IFI’s in a second can badmouth us and make it extremely difficult for us to access needed capital; that is to say, loans from creditors.
    Belize’s saving grace is our oil. But that is not infinite. That too will dry up if not properly managed.
    No one disputes that some restructuring had to be done to the Belizean economy. But what is being done by government can hardly be defined as restructuring; its more like destroying.
    After all is said and done, all I want to know is who is going to pay for all of this and how is it going to be paid. Can the government answer, please!

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