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Aug 16, 2019

A National Gas Company This Way Comes

The House of Representatives met today in a special sitting during which several bills, including the Belize City Council (Municipal Paper) and the National Liquefied Petroleum Gas Project, were brought up for second reading.  The session, we note, did not see the attendance of Opposition Leader John Briceño who is still recovering from injuries received during a road traffic mishap on August second.  Notwithstanding Briceño’s absence, the meeting was lively, complete with banter on both sides of the floor.  Perhaps the most important of the various bills tabled is the National Liquefied Petroleum Gas Project which essentially paves the way for the establishment of a National Gas Company.  Billed as a public/private partnership the Prime Minister says that it will help to properly rationalize the cost, supply and pricing of butane.  The company, however, will consist of five directors, including a few alternates.  They are Financial Secretary Joseph Waight, Gilbert Canton, Brad Freking, Marion Usher and Michael Bowen.  Canton, as you would recall is the former Chief Executive Officer of Belize Natural Energy Limited.  Marion Usher is the son of the late Jane Usher and Michael Bowen is the President of Bowen and Bowen Limited.  But the composition of directors raises concern for Lake Independence Area Representative Cordel Hyde, who believes that a monopoly will be formed of the acquisition, sale and distribution of butane.


Cordel Hyde, Area Representative, Lake Independence

Cordel Hyde

“Those on the other side had promised to be different, had promised to do things differently and I think essentially what they are doing with this bill is establishing a monopoly and as captive a market as there is, eighty-three percent of all households use butane.  It’s as essential as water, as toilet paper, as pack bread.  I see there is some guarantee of a rate of return to the investors.  I would have wanted to see a guarantee in terms of a commitment to the people that the cost of butane would be less.  I don’t see that in this, so I am always uncomfortable with monopolies because even though the monopoly group will get a fifteen-year protection, will get exemption on all manner of taxes we can’t get a guarantee that the price of butane will go down and I think we have to insist that we get that under the circumstances.  With all that support we should be getting that, that’s just my two cents.”

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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