John Briceno attacks BTL compensation award

The Government of Belize has more or less confirmed the final payment to be made to the former owners of Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL) for the two nationalizations of the company between 2009 and 2011, subject to a final ruling by the Netherlands’ Permanent Court of International Arbitration.   As we reported on Wednesday, the Ashcroft Alliance wanted 10 Belize dollars per share but the Government’s own NERA evaluation put the value of shares at 1 dollar and forty four cents. It has been confirmed that the number now set per share is 5 dollars and 60 cents. The total shares taken over in 2009 from the Ashcroft Group was 45.1 million shares. According to Prime Minister Dean Barrow, about 60 percent of the likely award is attributed to the Accomodation Agreement, and it has been agreed that that portion must be spent on projects to benefit the country and people of Belize. But Opposition Leader John Briceno does not believe it is a good deal. He told us why:

John Briceno, Leader of the opposition: That’s quite a complicated matter but I am not surprised as to what has happened. We know that the Prime Minister was held over the barrel and he had no choice but to accommodate the former owners of BTL. It is something that we have been saying from the beginning. If you nationalized a company, you need to pay. You cannot behave like a thug. You cannot behave like you will not follow the laws of this country and that is precisely what happened to the government. They have gone to the CCJ on two occasion, on the 1st occasion they lost the case, and they had to start all over by nationalizing it once again. This time, they’re going to lose again but because they did not have the majority or the super majority required under the constitution they figured that they had to negotiate with the owners. Well the former owners, and rightfully so, put Mr. Barrow over the barrel.  Unfortunately, we the taxpayers are going to be paying hundreds of millions of dollars to the former owners of BTL and we have a problem with that.  I know that the government is trying to spin it, to say well it’s a victory for us, so when you start to look at everything that we have to pay: the law fees or the lawyer fees, the interest that they have, I mean the government mismanaged this case from day one and because of their incompetence, because of their hubris and because of their vindictiveness and spitefulness the Belizean people are now saddled to pay hundreds of millions of dollars.  And that is something that the government, Mr. Barrow and his government cannot run away fromvlcsnap-2016-05-16-15h03m32s489

 

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