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We have the money to pay for BTL Print E-mail
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Thursday, 02 November 2017 00:00

Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow called a press conference on Wednesday November 1 to brief the nation on a judgement handed down by the Caribbean Court of Justice which will see the Government of Belize making a final payment to the former owners of Belize Telemedia Limited of US $78,163,806.07; Dunkeld International Investment Ltd. is to be paid $62,849,799.23 and Belize Telemedia Employees Trust $15,314,006.84. There is an additional $245,155.36 to be paid to Dunkeld and $10,300,518.34 to be paid to the Belize Telemedia Employees Trust. The amounts, however, will be used to fund charitable projects in Belize and will be paid in Belize dollars.

During the conference the PM was clear that the payment is not new money that the Ashcroft Alliance is to be paid. On June 29th of last year, the Government announced that the final cost for BTL would be in the region of 388 million dollars. At the time government said that it had already paid 40 percent of that amount which was the actual value of the shares. The resulting 60 percent which was what was due Ashcroft as a result of the PUP’s Accommodation Agreement was to have been paid in Belize currency and would have been used for projects to Benefit Belize and Belizeans.

Shortly after that announcement and in frustration that the Government of Belize was resisting payment to the Ashcroft Alliance for other arbitration awards which it had won in the U.S., the Alliance brought forward a claim to Government that most of what was due was actually owed them as expenses which they incurred to reach a final settlement. They then demanded that the payment be made in U.S. dollars contrary to what had been agreed to. The Government did not take that decision lying down and took the matter to the Caribbean Court of Justice which handed down the ruling this Wednesday.

For PM Barrow, the ruling is a sore issue as he stated that, “there is a lot in the judgment which we can quarrel about.” He noted that his expectation was that the court would have determined how much liabilities claimed was actually incurred during the nationalization of BTL. That in his view however was never arrived at. Nonetheless he stated that after consultation with the Central Bank, “we will make the entirety of the foreign currency payment by the date given in the order of the court,” that should be the 10th of November of this year.

As it relates to the financial position of the country, PM Barrow noted that “it is a fair deal of foreign exchange that we have to find but we will find it.” He added that in consultations with the Central Bank the current position is that there is in excess of $747M dollars available. With projected receipts and disbursements including the payment to the Ashcroft Alliance that position is expected to go to $583M by the end of the year. Under prudent financial management, the Prime Minister said that the country should maintain at least 3 months worth of import cover in U.S. currency and it will in fact have enough to cover for 15.6 that is almost 4 months of cover.

Last Updated on Thursday, 02 November 2017 16:33