Posted: Saturday, October 15, 2016. 1:01 p.m. CST.
By Delroy Cuthkelvin: That PUP politicians, of all people, would be calling for the resignation of our Prime Minister over the settlement of the BTL nationalization and compensation award is, to say the least, preposterous. Preposterous, we say, because were it not for the PUP, there would be no need for any such nationalization, compensation or settlement.
One of the most profitable companies in our country’s post-independence history, BTL was created in 1987-1988 by the first UDP Administration through the merger of Cable &Wireless and Belize Telecommunication Authority (BTA). The company’s original Articles of Association prohibited any individual or entity from owning more than 25 percent of BTL’s shares, except for the Government or some “permitted person” acting on its behalf.
The PUP returned to office in 1989, and one day before leaving office, on June 30, 1993, wrote a letter purporting to authorize Michael Ashcroft to act as a “permitted person” on behalf of the Government of Belize.Thankfully, the UDP when it returned to office in 1993, declined to honour that arrangement which would have allowed Ashcroft to take majority control of the company. But when the PUP returned again in 1998, they immediately set out to consummate the deal. To cut a long story short, by 2001, Ashcroft’s Carlisle Holdings would increase its BTL shareholdings to 52 percent, effectively giving it majority control of the company.
In 2004, when things fell apart over the Glenn Godfrey INTELCO debacle, the PUP Government was forced to buy back BTL from Ashcroft’s Carlisle Holdings, later transferring those shares to Jeffery Prosser’s Innovative Communication Corporation, who were to become the new buyers and majority owners of BTL.But in 2005, whenInnovative Communication Corporation failed to pay for the 52% of shares, the PUP administration would again take back those shares, the majority of which would eventually return to Ashcroft’s companies for millions less than they had sold them to the Government only one year earlier.
Then came the infamous Secret Accommodation Agreement, signed in 2005, in which the Musa Administration would, among other outrageous things, guarantee the owners of BTL minimum annual profits of 15%, would commit to compensate them for any shortfall in such guaranteed profits, and would agree to eventually write off taxes BTL owed to the Government, should the Government fail to pay them the full compensation.
As it turned out, the situation did arise where such profits were not realized, hence, in accordance with three settlement deeds (2005, 2006 and 2008) later attached to the Master Accommodation Agreement, the Government was forced to write off almost 12 Million in taxes as compensation for shortfalls in profits claimed by the owners of BTL.
This is the state of affairs that Prime Minister Rt. Honourable Dean Barrow and the UDP inherited in 2008, all created by Said Musa and the PUP. So, imagine the audacity and absurdity of Musa’s own son, Kareem Musa (no doubt a rising leader in the PUP), now being the one leading the charge for Prime Minister Barrow to resign over the final settlement for having returned majority control of BTL to the Government and People of Belize, which is exactly where it was and belonged, before they (the PUP) high-jacked and subverted the brilliant design of the original crafters of this great Belizean success story called BTL.
How incredible; how daring; how preposterous!
The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Breaking Belize News.
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