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Prime Minister says SMART Microsoft contract got approval after the fact from Contractor General

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Posted: Tuesday, February 8, 2022. 9:05 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Legally, the Financial Secretary Joseph Waight and Central Information Technology Office (CITO) was not in the wrong in his handling of the renewal of Microsoft 365 licenses contracted to Speednet Communications last year – except for not telling the Contractor General, Omar Mitchell, sooner.

Prime Minister and Minister of Finance John Briceño, who maintained he knew nothing about the agreements until after they had been made, indicated to reporters that while “anyone” could bring a lawsuit challenging him and Waight on the legality of the contracts, it would not, in his opinion, go anywhere.

“The Contractor General, after the fact, took a look at everything that took place, and he has given a stamp of approval, saying that everything was done openly and transparently,” Briceño said, comparing it to the previous award of such contracts to Belize Telemedia Limited without tendering and stating by putting this contract out to tender and awarding it to the lowest bidder, saving the Government money.

And the Prime Minister reminded that nationally owned or not, Telemedia has no right to all of the Government’s business, and at least in the past been “creaming” the Government, for example on the issue of internet in schools, where it charged more than five times the cost of service as its nearest competitor.

Had BTL charged less there may have been more of a case, the P.M. allowed, but otherwise it is a “making a mountain out of a molehill.” He also pointed out that it was a matter of timing – had the contracts not been renewed, it was possible the Government could have lost the licenses and cut off all Government-related work.

 

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