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How to turn BTL around

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Posted: Thursday, December 10, 2020. 9:12 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: There was a time when the former Belize Telecommunications Limited (BTL) was the only game in town, long before Intelco, Smart, et al.

But those days are over, and the now-Belize Telemedia Limited must get used to the yapping dogs at its heels, working to take it down. Profits are down as is revenue and too much has already been invested in technology such as the fiber-optic network and 4G LTE internet speed among other things.

So how does established businessman Mark Lizarraga propose to turn it around?

Lizarraga first noted that the freeing of Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP), among other things, has made Telemedia “just another provider of some services in an environment where we continue to compete with smaller and nimbler companies,” and that its approach has been “fragmented” and unclear and not comprehensive, resulting in a lack of strategy that has hurt the company.

The Government, Lizarraga revealed, is owed some $19 million in declared dividends; the company is operating primarily on overdraft; and managers and staff alike have been forced to make choices such as taking a smaller salary.

The answer, he said, is unifying strategy and targeting new business and new services. The new Board, oversight functions and middle management will have “clear lines” between them and micromanagement will be limited.

As part of his remit, Chairman Lizarraga has met with executives of the Belize Communications Workers’ Union (BCWU), recognizing their contributions toward savings and committing to discussing with staff and representatives the company’s plans for adjustments. But adjustments there will be, he added; nothing is off the table.

The new board of directors is also preparing for BTL’s delayed AGM but Lizarraga said that they will have two extraordinary general meetings to pass and then confirm resolutions. One goal he is working towards is ensuring that the company will be able to hold meetings virtually.

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