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Jul 1, 2019

Private Sector Senator Calls for Independent Investigation of B.T.L.’s Financials

There has been no further communication from Belize Telemedia Limited since last week.  On Wednesday, News Five first reported on leaked documents which purportedly showed that B.T.L. owes the government millions of dollars in backed up general sales tax. In total, the government company is said to owe close to fifty million dollars in taxes between 2011 and 2017.  But according to Chair Net Vasquez, the company has been paying its taxes in due time.  A release from B.T.L. says that the company has not been assessed with respect to GST. Financial Secretary Joseph Waight, however, said that the G.S.T. Department is doing an assessment which has not been completed.  Two days after the story broke, an internal B.T.L. employee bulletin was circulated among the staff.  It confirmed the resignation of C.E.O. Rochus Schreiber.  The release on Friday said that Schreiber has “decided to pursue other personal interests and reunite with his family in the United Kingdom at the end of September.” According to the bulletin, Schreiber, who enjoys a plump monthly salary with thousands of dollars in perks and allowances, will be replaced by a qualified Belizean.  Who will get one of the highest paying jobs in the country is still not confirmed, but there is speculation that the changes will come from inside the current company structure.  In the meantime, Senator for the Private Sector Mark Lizarraga is calling for an independent investigation of B.T.L.’s Financials.

 

Mark Lizarraga

Mark Lizarraga, Senator for Private Sector

“I certainly call and I certainly will ask the Chamber of Commerce and the Belize Business Bureau who I represent in the Senate to call for an investigation and to call the Auditor General perhaps to do an independent audit. Because I certainly believe that an independent audit is necessary in this instance if nothing else to show the Belizean public that his institution is over and above board. So I will call on the Chamber of Commerce and the BBB to call on the Auditor General to have an audit so that the people of Belize can be comforted that one of the institution that we own as a people are in fact being complaint with their tax obligation and the burden is being left on the rest of us out there while government owned institution are non compliant.”

 

Since last week, we have been attempting to get in contact with Acting Commissioner of G.S.T., Evan Brown, but all our attempts proved futile. Our calls to B.T.L. Chair Net Vasquez have gone unanswered.


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