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Jan 5, 2018

Clash over B.T.L. Loan; Does Government Have to Give Guarantee

The other major issue debated by the House today is a motion to approve a Taiwan ICDF loan to Belize Telemedia Limited for its Internet program. That loan is to cover ninety-six million dollars for a national broadband program which has already been rolled out to San Pedro. But the primary objection by the Opposition is that the government is acting hypocritically by exposing Belize once again through a sovereign guarantee for a private company that has not been performing up to standard.


Kareem Musa

Kareem Musa, Area Rep., Caribbean Shores

“What we have before us today, if you read the motion, it says a private company. So the same thing that this Prime Minister has condemned in the past, he is now asking the Belizean people, or this House to approve a loan with a sovereign guarantee by the Government. I thought I would never see this day. What does that mean, Madam Speaker, what does a sovereign guarantee mean? It means that if young prince Anwar [Barrow] and the other board members at B.T.L. cannot pay this debt to Taiwan, that the people of Belize will once again be on the hook to pay for this company, that we have already paid hand over fist for! Five hundred and sixty million we have paid for this company already. And Madam Speaker, this isn’t the first time we are coming to this House for loans on top of loans on top of loans: first it was 3G, then 4G, then LTE, now broadband fiber-optic. It begs the question, Madam Speaker: what did we pay five hundred and fifty-seven million for? For a dinosaur, for a useless, obsolete, ‘puss ina bag.’ That is what you all paid for, if every time you have to come to this House to borrow more money. And so the Belizean people are shackled by you all: six hundred million already, loan on top of loan on top of loan. We are looking at close to one billion dollars for this B.T.L., for this Barrow Piñata Limited (Applause) that you all use as a cash cow; you are using that as your own cash cow, that is what the Belizean people are seeing. Tell me something, why is it Madam Speaker, since this company is supposedly for the Belizean people, why is it that we don’t get those dividends? Why is it that when we have the budget every March, we don’t see the dividends from B.T.L. and decide how we are going to spend it? Why is it not in there? Why is B.T.L. treated separately and apart from the revenues of this country, if it is that we supposedly own it?”


John Briceño

John Briceño, Leader of the Opposition

“As a person in the business, I can tell you that something is wrong over that side when they are going to spend ninety-six million dollars, because the market is just not big enough to be able to pay back ninety-six million dollars but that is another matter for the people at B.T.L. to answer. The point we are making, Madam Speaker, then, is if B.T.L. is so profitable, why is it that they need a sovereign guarantee from the government of Belize for a loan from Taiwan? If Taiwan is such a good friend to Belize, why is it that the government of Taiwan or ICDF is demanding that there must be a sovereign guarantee from the government and people of Belize? And if B.T.L. is owned by the Belizean people – I think we own over ninety percent – obviously those on the other side don’t understand business, that if you default on a loan, then the people that lend you the money can come at you, either the company or the shareholders will lose their shares in the company so the shareholders will have to come up with the money to pay that. The point is that there is no need for a sovereign guarantee.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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