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Jun 17, 2011

Electrifying info: Will B.E.L. be nationalized by Monday?

The House of Representatives will meet this Monday in Belmopan. It’s billed as a special sitting, but when we checked, the House agenda only lists the reading of three of five anti-crime bills. The Senate is also being convened in the afternoon and that is unprecedented. It is widely believed, however, that at these special sittings the government, with its super majority, will be seeking approval for the nationalization of the “bankrupt” Belize Electricity Limited. The utility company is known to be cashed strapped and swimming in debt reportedly in the range of twenty-five million dollars to the Public Utilities Commission, Belize Cogeneration Plant, Belize Electric Company Limited and Mexico’s Comision Federal de Electricidad. In the past week, the Prime Minister has been saying that he will do what is necessary to avoid blackouts since B.E.L. cannot pay its debt to its main supplier, C.F.E. While he had first said that he would buy seventy percent majority shares in B.E.L. from Fortis, a formal proposal was never made because the Prime Minister insists that he would not negotiate thirty-six million dollars in rebates that the P.U.C. says B.E.L. owes to consumers. Sources tell News Five that the Government will now NOT take all the seventy percent interest owned by Fortis. Instead, the Government will likely be acquiring about twenty-four point five percent since the Social Security owns twenty-six point five percent. By so doing it will have a fifty-one percent majority which along with the so-called golden share will give it control.

But there are also other ramifications, because B.E.L. also owes twelve million dollars to BECOL, the hydro company and if it can’t meet that debt, BECOL which is also owned by Fortis, could pull the plug on B.E.L. This would likely trigger a second round of Government nationalization in the electricity sector. The stakes are high but like in the case of the nationalization of Telemedia, compensation will likely take a long time to resolve. B.E.L. has assets of four hundred and forty-four million dollars. It is owned by Fortis, a huge Canadian utility company worth thirteen billion US dollars. Tonight, the road ahead is paved with uncertainty. Of note is that B.E.L. would also be the second company to be nationalized by the Barrow Administration in less than three years.  The Government already owns Belize Water Services Limited.

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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9 Responses for “Electrifying info: Will B.E.L. be nationalized by Monday?”

  1. Nothing is for free says:

    Nothing is for free!! The providers of electricity must receive enough income to cover their operating costs – plain common sense that the PUC has not accepted by keeping electricity charges below cost. Result is the company can’t pay it’s bills.
    Nationalisation will provide no extra income to pay providers and will cost more as it will need to cover the costs of the civil servants taking charge.
    Nationalisation of any company will act as a deterrent for any other company with thoughts of establishing in Belize.

  2. mark6 says:

    as long as CANADIANS are involved it is problem they are worst of the worst in trying to help others they only help themselves, they are all over belize as RETIRED persons but they are just squeezing all they can of our country.

  3. common sense says:

    when it’s convenient, the barrow administration says that the SSB is independent; but now, it seems that he and the UDP are claiming the SSB’s 26.5% stake in BEL? does this make sense?

    Is Barrow finally admitting that he “controls” the board at SSB?

    Is he admitting that having his x-wife & vasquez cast votes at SSB to acquire shares in BTL is clearly a conflict of interest?

  4. Lawpolo says:

    Nothing is for free…you are one of the few people whose comments I agree with and respect on this News website.

    mark6, you have been tricked by Dean and his regime. You are entitled to your views, but I tell you without a doubt that they are unfairly biased. Your inherent hate of Canadians or any other peoples of the world is not a result of your own experiences or interaction, but rather what those in control of the media have infested your mind with over years and years.

  5. Belizean Diaspora says:

    Damn, those bloody idiots really want to do this. Sad that Belizeans have lost their voice in this, since they will hurt the most if GoB takes over BEL for real. What happens if there happens to be another agreement similar to the one signed with Ashcroft, with Fortis, will GoB not pay that compensation also? This is highly irresponsible to try to take over companies, solely to enrich your cronies, and family, to the country’s disadvantage. The world is already concerned with the spectacle which is this Govt. ignorantly disobeys it’s legal obligations to render compensation to Micheal Ashcroft over Telemedia, now Belize risks some crazy things happening if they(GoB, or more rather, GoUDP, since they only serve apparently UDP people) continue down this path. The PUC didn’t want to raise prices when BEL really needed it, now when these idiots get a hold of BEL, they’ll listen to their masters for their supper. BEL could have never continued to absorb costs when Belizeans refused to pay it for good. GoB (GoUDP for those who benefit) wants to stave off revolution, tells BEL to suck it up, and that we’ll pick up the slack when you’re gone. Will they sing that tune to another Lois Young, or Net Vasquez in charge of BEL?

  6. Roy Yates says:

    WHAT A COUNTRY, does it really have a leader? Indeed man is his own worst enemy. When I was growing up there was a guy in the neighbourhood that fought, I believe with everyone of us; and his idea was, he did not fight to win, but to show his oponent that he was not affraid of anyone. Well. I never saw him won any of his fights including the one with me. The leadeship of this government seem to be of the mind set of that stupid fellow.

  7. Maverick says:

    Love it that of the comments that seem to disagree with the takeover, none offer an alternative, and none seem to find a problem with Fortis’ creative accounting practises; well I will offer a few alternatives: 1. Government does nothing and watch the country get plunged into rolling blackouts, ruining our way of life and our economy and providing a rich environment for crime. 2. Government pays another 4m each 20 days to pay CFE until the hydro gets back in operation and then we continue that subsidy each dry season, while Fortis takes the profits. 3. Let’s just bypass the regulators and raise the rates to Belizeans so we can all pay in order that Fortis can add to their US 117m in profit for the next quarter.

    This is no different from the Universal Health debacle in 2007, when the then government, instead of forcing the company to solve it’s own problems, diverted 20m of poor housing money to a floundering private enterprise.

  8. JG says:

    man, dont say that you’d rather burn candles in your house rather than pay a higher electric bill! unless you guys forget what its like when Belize didnt have electricity before Electricity Board. Think of the houses that will burn down. no electricity? unu cant sleep da night without wa fan. what unu wa do home if unu no wa watch tv?

  9. JG says:

    bel being nationalized will not solve anything. all it will do is government will take up teh bill for teh company, and then still raise rates to pay for teh energy. if governmnet take sover bel, does that mean the price of energy will stay the same or go down???? of course not.

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