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Jun 29, 2021

Central American Butane Companies Sue G.O.B.

Back in 2019, the attorney for the Central American butane companies of Gas Tomza, BWEL, Zeta/Southern Choice and Western Gas Company filed a case against the Government of Belize arguing that G.O.B. created an agreement and passed subsequent legislation for an LPG monopoly.  This was the National Gas Company Limited.  N.G.C.L. became the sole importer of LPG for the country of Belize and now Gas Tomza, BWEL, Zeta and all other butane businesses must buy from N.G.C.L.  Since the matter was filed, there have been some delays in the court, caused largely by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the virtual hearing began before the Acting Chief Justice Michelle Arana last Friday.  Attorney Audrey Matura shares why they have brought the matter before the court and what her clients are seeking.


Audrey Matura

Audrey Matura, Attorney for Central American LPG Companies

“We sued. My clients bought a constitutional claim against the Government because it was the Government that did the secretive definitive agreement that was later discovered after they then passed the legislation for the NGC to operate as a monopoly, and since then have been passing different piece of legislations that the Belizean public doesn’t seem to be aware that keeps ensuring that the monopoly becomes very wealthy and the Belizean people are paying for it. Now, our constitutional claim is that our clients have not been treated equally before the law because a special law was made for another group. But they are not equal under the law, no special law was made for them or they are not included under the law; rather they are excluded. Our other part of the claim is that their right to work, to decide to work in the trade that they do and their trade is to import so that they can distribute in Belize that has also been violated. So, we are saying that is another constitutional right that needs to be dealt with before the court. So, we are just at the hearing stage and after this there should be a decision. We are seeking that they find that their constitutional rights were breached and that as a result of that breach they have suffered damages, financial damages. But also, we want that they find that once their constitutional rights were breached that those legislations that created the monopoly be quashed and they be allowed to import. Now, that is very important because that is basically what they want to continue to be able to continue doing business as they did before as importers. They are not saying that the NGC cannot do business as well, but they are saying let it be a fair competition. Let them do business and let us do business.”

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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