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Prime Minister and SMART defend Microsoft business to Chamber

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Posted: Thursday, September 16, 2021. 3:28 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Prime Minister John Briceno continues to deflect criticism that the government is diverting business away from Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL) in favor of Smart.

This time, it is to the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry, with Smart joining in on the complaint.

The P.M., according to Channel 5 News, insists the Central Information Technology Office (CITO) went to great lengths to ensure that the tender process was fair and transparent. P.M. Briceño also said that overlooking other service providers under the Belize Telecommunications Act, who are able to provide cheaper services than BTL, is not creating a fair playing field. He says that what the chamber has proposed is tantamount to creating a monopoly for BTL.

Separately, Speednet, parent of Smart and a member of the Chamber, complained that the powerful business community grouping “has chosen to publicly lobby for the interests of another member over our interests and to entirely ignore the potential harm to us as your member.” It adds that it is disappointed as “as a member in good standing we have done our best to make a positive contribution to the BCCI, the Belizean economy and the community at large. However, the letter sent to the government evidences that our contribution is no longer valued by the BCCI.”

Citing the majority ownership of the Government and statutory entities in Telemedia, over 90 percent, Chamber President Marissa Longsworth had urged GOB to make sure that the highest degree of transparency and sound procurement practices that are part of the Finance and Audit Reform Act are adhered to.

An application for leave to grant judicial review on the award of the contract has been filed on behalf of Senator Michael Peyrefitte.

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