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May 13, 2009

…and meets with B.E.L. C.E.O. Lynn Young over conflict

And in respect of the differences between the Public Utilities Commission and the company, all is not lost and the tone this morning sounded conciliatory. According to Barrow, he’s encouraged by a recent meeting he had with B.E.L.’s C.E.O., Lynn Young.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
“I asked the Minister of Public Utilities to join that meeting towards the end and I secured an agreement that they would meet to get into the details of the larger dispute that’s basically between the Public Utilities Commission and B.E.L. Now, I caution that the Public Utilities Commission is a creature created by statute with certain powers, with a certain jurisdiction, with a certain authority that not even government can usurp. But surely if the Minister will get involved and try to encourage comprehensive discussions between B.E.L. and the P.U.C., that might be the start of a process; of a dialogue that can lead to some resolution outside of court. Ultimately of course, there are the courts and we know that already a number of the issues are before the courts between B.E.L. and the P.U.C. So if worse comes to worse that will be the way of resolving those difficulties. But of course if we can do this out of court by inconsequence of some good faith dialogue, some effort at sitting down and across the table trying to work through compromises that will not prejudice the Belizean consumer that is naturally the way all of us would prefer to see it happen. When they and B.E.L. sit face to face I’m not sure what the atmosphere will be like. All I can tell you is that Mr. Young did make some good-faith gestures that I certainly appreciated.”

Marion Ali
“Can you go into those?”

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
”Yes, nothing secret. He’s offering to upfront something like five million dollars to try to assist with the urban expansion of B.E.L.’s electrification programme and he’s also offering to partner with government with respect to rural electrification—with an expansion of a rural electrification programme. Both things had been on pause, both things had been stalled because of a lack of money but also because of the dispute. Let us not try to get away from that. So to the extent that these overtures were made, I certainly welcome them, even in terms of the tone of the dialogue between myself and Mr. Young. I thought that it represented an attempt at progress. Now, I say again that it really is ultimately a matter for the P.U.C. And I need to make clear that in encouraging this I’m not in any way second-guessing the P.U.C. I think the P.U.C. has done an outstanding job in terms of trying to ensure that the rights of Belizean consumers are protected.”

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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