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Jun 9, 2011

Will B.E.L. become government owned if the country is covered in darkness?

After Wednesday’s press conference in which Prime Minister Dean Barrow dropped the bombshell that he might have to consider nationalizing Belize Electricity Limited, the nation has been on edge on both the possibility of blackouts and the effects on investors’ confidence if another company is nationalized. B.E.L. has been unable to meet debt obligations or pay dividends because the utility company claims it has been losing money since the P.U.C. denied a rate increase and the price of fuel is keeping operation costs high. A critical meeting is set for this Friday between the prime minister and B.E.L. C.E.O., Lynn Young, from which government may arrive at a decision on whether or not it will take control of B.E.L.  Here’s an excerpt of what the Prime Minister said on Wednesday.

Dean Barrow

Dean Barrow

This government, the party now in government, was always ideologically opposed to the privatization of essential resources. So wherewithal apart—as a matter of philosophy and conviction and what we think is right—we believe that the people of Belize should own B.E.L. We believe that the people of this country should own B.T.L.; we believe that the people of this country should own Belize Water Services.  That is a philosophical, ideological conviction if you will.

If we could wave a magic wand or snap our fingers to get back B.E.L. thereby, we would do it immediately. We know, especially if you are talking about a bankrupt company, that it would be a hell of a challenge going forward, but we would be left with no alternatives to secure the interests of people and we would also be doing what we inherently believe is correct—have the government and people of this country own the essential services. In terms of compensation, I am telling you that we are going to sit down and have what I hope will be an amicable meeting with Lynn Young. I am not telling you that government is looking to nationalize by force B.E.L. at all. So, the hard place in which B.E.L. finds itself with respect to the P.U.C. in my view is principally of its own making. But if B.E.L. can’t get money to pay for energy, then it seems to be that B.E.L. is on the brink of becoming non-operational. And I am saying to you ladies and gentlemen that the government of Belize cannot have that happen. I will try to report again to you as quickly after that meeting on Friday as I can. There are at the margins, so Mexico is threatening to cut us off again. Government is prepared to prepay another couple months of electricity bill—four million dollars—and that will buy us twelve days or so. And it is my promise to the Belizean people that within that twelve days a solution will be found.”

Today, all over Belize, many questions are being asked: Will B.E.L. be able to pay its mounting debts?  Will the government continue to prepay its electric bills to ease B.E.L.’s cash flow? Will there be rolling blackouts? Would the P.M. dare to nationalize yet another private company? B.E.L. has warned that the company, due to high fuel costs and litigation with the P.U.C., may be unable to make payments to its main power supplier in Mexico, the Comision Federal de Electric to which it owes eight million dollars.  The outcome of the much anticipated meeting could determine if Belizeans must prepare for rolling blackouts in the near future or the nationalization of yet another large company by this government. We’ll be monitoring developments closely.

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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17 Responses for “Will B.E.L. become government owned if the country is covered in darkness?”

  1. I Have Awaken says:

    Take away all the hoopla, rhetorical flourishes etc and this is what it all boils down to folks:

    “B.E.L. has been unable to meet debt obligations or pay dividends because the utility company CLAIMS it has been losing money since the P.U.C. DENIED A RATE INCREASE and the price of fuel is keeping operation costs high. ”

    Croc tears are a falling.

  2. Elgin Martinez says:

    Start cutting some of the employees salary.

  3. Lindsay Howard says:

    It’s BECOL, not BEL that is at the heart of the problem. And, doesn’t this happen just about every year this time?

  4. Justice says:

    If the dictator mentions nationalization it will happen. More than likely he or his family will benefit from the transaction. On the other part wasn’t the son of BEL’s CEO educated with the help of the company? Hmmm could not that money have ben used elsewhere in a financially stricken company?

  5. Michael says:

    Guys lets get serious. Was BEL better managed all the years that the company was owned by Government. The financial restraint that BEL is experiencing is real and nationalization is not a magic wand that will be waived and make it go away. And please tell me which business, Priviate or Public can continue to operate and remain viable if not producing a profit. I have every confidence in my fellow Belizeans to know that profit is not always judged in financial terms. The useful product an entity exist to provide must be greater than the cost of operation whatever that useful product is. For Hospital it is saving lives and promoting national health. For the Red Cross is humanitarian relief during disasters. For private companies financial performance is used worldwide to judge viability. Being profitable is just another term for being viable, and applies equally to private companies, Governmental entities, or nonprofit organizations. Wake Up Belize lets stay real and avoid the ostrich syndrome.

  6. rasta fu life says:

    jus drink weed!!!!

  7. GrigaMan says:

    I could not agree more. The safety of the utilities need to be in the hands of our Government. When these companies were placed in private hands, I knew it would come back to cost us more than we knew. Take it back…. take it all back…..

  8. ivan cal says:

    the problem we Belizeans know that PM dean oliver borrow is using the word “THE BELIZEAN PEOPLE” should own BEL!!!,and we all know he wan fooooooooooolllllllllllllllllllll we again,watch wat happen to BTL,what have ‘WE BELIZEANS , gotten out of it? NOTHINGGGGGGGGGGGGGG….so mr.PM u can fool urself but not fool we again/ by the way it can be named BARROW AND I said no matta if government take it in the name of Belize it will only benefit dean barrow and companies,NOT BELIZEANS.

  9. Curious says:

    BEL will miraculously find the bailout money before the PM can get his hand on this company as it’s not possible for them to blow out all that profit they’ve been making all these years.

    I will always maintain that BEL and not BTL, is the company that should have been confiscated by GOB as it’s more of a humanitarian service; Privatizing BEL was just as bad an idea as privatizing our main hospitals! If you don’t believe so, try coming home with a newborn baby, to a home without electricity!

  10. Consciousness says:

    Ask the CEO of BEL and all the top executives of the company come June 30th whether they will collect their huge salaries with perks? Isn´t it a good idea since BEL no have money to pay their bills that these big fishes reduce their pay cheque?

    Another private company seeking government bail out at the expenses of taxpayers…The previous government crucified us with government guarantee loans for selected good friends and who are paying for these LOANS?? The poorest and marginalized Belizeans. Heck man…

    Please Mr. Barrow no more of this nonsense….Government cannot BAIL out the rich and send the poor into more misery and slavery

  11. GrigaMan says:

    Consciousness …..
    I agree with most ah weh u seh. But, this one, BEL, dem hafftu bail out and we need fu just tek it cause if they dont, then di country wah left eena blackout.. dem can’t allow dat. So, in this case, buy back, tek it back, do what he need fu do, but he need fu get it back into the public hands.
    You said it best, “The previous government crucified us with government guarantee loans for selected good friends.”…

  12. ALONGWORTH says:


  13. concerned mother says:

    I totally agree with the Prime Minister. If BEL continues to play possom, the best thing will be to nationalize the company!!

  14. Pablo says:

    Remember people that BEL doesn’t own anything now, it is a shell company that buys all its power from BECOL, Mexico etc., all the power supply is owned by BECOL. So if we take back BEL it will be like a shell company that we will be getting, “puss inna bag”. BECOL is a separate company that owns all the power production. To me this is just another setup by another set of ministers, to be passed on to the Belizean people. Lets look at this closer…

  15. Belizean says:

    Elgin Martinez Start with Lynn Young

  16. Belizean says:

    WE have crude oil in belize, to who should the crude belong? Foreigners? Or belizean? I think the crude oil should be for the belizeans. So let government buy some generators that run off crude oil and have bne sell the crude to runs these generators at a low cost. bne needs money to operate but they can sell or give the country back some crude for low cost and we have low price electricity. And yes Generators can run off the high quality belizean crude oil. In spanish Lookout they do have several of these generators and they run of belizean crude oil.

  17. Earl Grey says:

    BELIZE ELECTRICITY BOARD…………sounds familiar?????????????????

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