According to an article in the newspaper the Reporter of the Port Town of May 28, 2000, Fonseca the Minister of Finance who is apparently chief spokesperson for the Government in Belmopan and chief negotiator revealed there was a high tension dispute between the PUP government and BTL majority shareholders.
The question has been raised on the debating culture list, if Fonseca the Minister of Finance should be permitted to negotiate on the part of Belize? Allegations have been made and opinions offered, that the good Minister couldn't negotiate his way out of a paper bag. His record with the dam construction and other events lead one to concurr in this opinion.
In the meantime though, despite any failings our Minister might have in negotiating skills, he is the man on the spot. He insisted that the government had stuck to it's guns! (Yeah right! Hold on to your chequebook Ashcroft! ) Lord Ashcroft was always a favorite with the PUP. Lots of FREEBIES, wining and dining and who knows what else? But since our Ashcroft went back to the U.K., and became a Lord of the Realm, his empire seems to be tumbling around him. Despite setbacks, he is still a relatively wealthy man and far from impotent.
The government's position according to Fonseca, has been to point out in the negotiations that BTL has been unwilling to provide essential services to the rural areas. Government even collected evidence to prove this point. The default in conection of rural communities by telephone could lead to cancellation of BTL's license. Ashcroft through his Carlysle Holdings has pulled back on it's demands for higher rates and more profits for the last three years of it's monopoly contract.
In the same issue of the newspaper, Linn Wilson of Seine Bight Village wrote a letter to the editor complaining that BTL had promised their Independence High School free internet access more than two years ago. This is a relatively minor thing to do, for Seine Bight has both telephone and electricity. It takes a few minutes to connect them up and set up the free promised educational services to the internet. But Linn Wilson claims BTL have not done this yet, despite lame promises. In other words BTL are full of hot air and liars to boot.
BTL gets most of it's current profits from the port of Belize City, so that is where the various BTL propoganda and prizes, awards and other low cost advertising public opinion gimmicks are spent. The rest of the nation can go to h*$.
In the negotiations between majority foreign shareholders of BTL and the government; plans and promises are being made for BTL to expand it's operations to scattered rural areas. ( Yeah right!- Got a promised timetable too?) We heard that one about 12 years ago.
Musa our Prime Minister announced that a final decision has not been taken by government as to what will happen after December 31st, 2002 when the BTL monoply expires. MCI and Carlyisle (Ashcroft) want another monopoly for another 20 years. If the PUP ever did that, there would definitely be a revolution in the streets, I'm sure! I've got more faith in Musa as a negotiator than Fonseca, for sure. But the PUP political party gang from Belize City who control the PUP political party have been thick as thieves with Ashcroft for years. If the good Lord, could find some time from his affairs in England to come back and wine and dine this port town gang again, I'm sure the negotiations would go more favorably?
In the meantime, Lord Ashcroft's, Carlysle Holdings is taking a beating, the newspaper says in another item on page 30, and the stock value has dropped 50% from $16 a share to $8 a share. In the port town, Aschrofts, Belize Bank employees are reported in the newspaper as being worried about their retirement fund, which is made up solely of Carlyisle stock. ( Ohh booooy! ) The newspaper speculates that may be why Carlyisle wants to squeeze more profits out of Belize with as little investment as possible. It would also explain why he wants another 20 year monopoly contract at the expiration of this one. The captive market of telephony in Belize has been a CASH COW for investors, returning their investments many times over. It is the monopoly that has done it and private arrangements with the PUP political party port town gang mafia.