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Prime Minister: Net Vasquez affair “regrettable,” but will not affect BTL reputation

Posted: Wednesday, September 16, 2020. 1:56 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: As he has many times before, Prime Minister Dean Barrow has gone to bat for Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL), after Leader of the Opposition John Briceño painted a picture of a company gone astray.

“Straight arrow” Nestor Vasquez has been forced out as company chairman after being accused of multiple violations of company regulations, a matter the Prime Minister called regrettable. But one man’s alleged errors should not reflect on a company, he said, that has held its own since its nationalization twice over in 2009 and 2011.

The investigation is underway and will not be led by the Prime Minister’s right-hand lady, CEO Audrey Wallace, who is also a member of the BTL Board of Directors, he confirmed.

Briceño said the values of company shares had fallen since its nationalization, but the Prime Minister said this was offset by the company’s continuing profits and payment of dividends to major shareholders, including the Social Security Board (SSB).

And while it took a lot to wrest control from the so-called Ashcroft Alliance for the nationalizations, the P.M. said, it was not even half of what they had claimed.

And the benefits to Belizeans as enumerated by the Prime Minister was enormous: expansion of 4GLTE countrywide, internet for schools and the DigiLearn program, extension of fiber optic cable to Ambergris Caye, scholarships and support for social programs, and much more.

So, he concluded, the Opposition should not exploit Vasquez’s misfortune to throw shade on Telemedia’s accomplishments, but wait until the proper investigation has been concluded. There would be no cover-up or sweeping under the rug.


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