REPORT #269 May 2000

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

The Belize Telecommunications Monopoly has been a sore point with citizens almost from the day it was created. A robber baron outfit that believes in profits and despite a monopoly status supposedly with the intent of supplying development infra-structure, the monopoly went the direction of most British overseas business monopolies. They substituted local political favors, gifts to the local center of political power in the port town for favorable publicity and a focused goal on squeezing the most profits they could out of existing surveyed areas of the country, they deemed immediately profitable. Infra-structure and development only occurred when their arms were twisted in a public outcry.

Economically, the obstructionism and lack of telecommunications investment infra-structure has cost the government several hundreds of millions of dollars in lost economic development. One of the most annoying things, was the lack of nationwide telephone service of reliability. The second thing was lack of internet capability anywhere in the nation of Belize for economic and educational development. The problem continued to grow over the last ten years with the rapidly changing technological advances and the losses of economic growth and productivity to the Belize nation and government treasury revenues are calculated over two billion dollars.

Overpricing, gouging of a captive market with prices and lack of services has caused an ever increasing loss of incoming businesses that needed reasonably priced telephones and internet e-commerce services over the last seven years in particular.

The government it seems, has found a way around the obstacles places by the BTL monopoly. This year 2000! You have an e-commerce business and you want to set up in Pueble Viejo, Dolores, Burrel Boom, or Sapodilla Cayes, you can do so. The new PUP government have wisely deemed that economic development and growth are more important than a single minded profit motive of pre-conceived profit locations by the BTL monopoly.

This year, if you have an e-commerce business of any size. Why the government will create you an Economic Empowerment Zone, or Free Trade Zone for your business. Under the law, the monopoly has to offer you services and prices at the same rate you can do it for yourself, or back out of the situation within a ZONE. You would then be allowed to do your own telecommunications thing within your ZONE. This now seems to be the new trend in lower priced telecommunications services. Wonder how many EPZ's we will have in the next three years until the monopoly expires?

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