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Jun 7, 2012

P.M. says talks with B.E.L. lawyers and Lord Michael Ashcroft

Dean Barrow

A large part of the country’s future debt is tied up due to the nationalization of two utility companies. The debts to the former owners of Belize Electricity Limited’s and Belize Telemedia Limited are in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Regarding the companies, the PM says that the government is about to enter discussions with the attorneys regarding B.E.L. and he continues to engage Lord Michael Ashcroft on how to move forward without conceding certain core principles that he adheres to since taking over Telemedia.

 

Dean Barrow

“There is, in fact, an agreement to talk. The B.E.L. attorneys wrote to us a couple of weeks ago to say; look, we would want to enter into discussions. So that’s now been agreed; those discussions should start very shortly. In terms of Michael Ashcroft, I have had, I’ve been engaged in correspondence with him to see if we can arrive to a suitable framework that might sustain negotiations. Up to this point in time; that’s not yet happened. The fact that I spoke at the Belize Bank’s twenty-fifth Anniversary Occasion should not be misunderstood. Number one; I think we need to compartmentalize. The Belize Bank and in fact the banking sector and what Central Bank is trying to do by way of regulation to ensure stability is one thing. The question of Telemedia and the need to pay compensation is quite another. All I will say is that we are engaged in a continuing—or rather the Central Bank is engaged in a continuing effort to ensure that the regulation of the financial sector will in fact underscore the prudential responsibility of Central bank without, as I put it, sucking all the oxygen out of the system. You tie up the bank’s capital for prudential reasons, it means there is less money to lend—that’s a balancing act that will continue. In terms of Telemedia as I said, I am trying to find a framework that would allow ourselves and Michael Ashcroft to talk without ever conceding certain core principles that I am committed to and that I have in fact indicated to the Belizean people are non-negotiable.”

 

Jules Vasquez

“I would imagine that includes the accommodation agreement.”

 

Dean Barrow

“Indeed I have made clear from the start that I would not voluntary honor the accommodation agreement or any accommodation agreement claim. So you can imagine that that does mean that there is not a great deal of joy to be had initially in terms of the very preliminary engagement between myself and Mr. Ashcroft. I’d leave it at that. It’s not; we have not called a halt to the effort to try to come up with a basis, as I’ve said, on which things can perhaps move forward, but so far we have not yet agreed to that basis either.”

 

It is expected that further information on the restructuring of the Bond will be known at budget time. 

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