Home Headlines Prime Minister and Opposition Leader buck heads over BTL Loan

Prime Minister and Opposition Leader buck heads over BTL Loan

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On Friday parliamentarians debated a loan motion for BTL’s National Broadband Program. Seventeen point five million US dollars are being borrowed from Taiwan’s International Cooperation and Development Fund (ICDF) under certain terms and conditions including the provision by the Government of Belize of an irrevocable and unconditional loan guarantee. In other words, the key requirement for this loan is a sovereign guarantee approved by the House of Representatives. While the People’s United Party does support the loan and its purpose, Leader John Briceno says that his party cannot support a sovereign guarantee for a company they say is private.

JOHN BRICENO, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION 

“I wasn’t planning to take part in this debate about the dis sovereign guarantee for the loan for BTL and as I always do I put on record that my brother and my cousin they are shareholders with speed net which the competition to BTL is. I also want to point out that I am a major shareholder in a company central cable network that provides Television and internet services from the Hall over Bridge all the way to Corozal so I need to put that on record but Madam Speaker I think that those on the other side are missing the point; I don’t think anyone of us are against BTL borrowing 96 million dollars to do a fiber to the home project. That is what we are against honorable member from Mesopotamia. We are against that the government.”

LAURA TUCKER-LONGSWORTH- SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE 

“Excuse me opposition leader. Can we allow the Opposition Leader to speak?”

PATRICK FABER, AREA REP., COLLET

“Madam Speaker, on a point of clarification, the Member is misleading. He just said 96 million dollars. He can’t even get the figure of the loan correct. Madam speaker could I ask that he makes that clarification loud and clear to the Belizean people.”

LAURA TUCKER-LONGSWORTH- SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE 

“Go ahead Opposition Leader.”

JOHN BRICENO, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION 

“I don’t know if he is trying to be a fool or if he is trying to be funny or he pretends.”

LAURA TUCKER-LONGSWORTH- SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE 

“Just proceed Opposition Leader.”

JOHN BRICENO, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION 

“The point that we are making here is that if BTL is such a great company, why do they need a sovereign guarantee? This government has criticized us because we gave a sovereign guarantee irregardless in what circumstances. It is a sovereign guarantee whether you do it here or there or in Cabinet, whatever it is; it is a sovereign guarantee and I believe that the time has come where the government of Belize should desist in offering any southern guarantee to any private company.”

Responding to Briceno’s statement was Prime Minister Dean Barrow.

DEAN BARROW, PRIME MINISTER OF BELIZE 

“He is in an extremely severe conflict of interest in the situation. I don’t know that it is enough merely to say ‘well I placed on record that the fact that my family’, that how he describes it. I had always thought he himself was personally a shareholder in Smart but he claims that it is his family and I don’t know that it is enough really to say ‘well before I speak let me confess once again that my family, my family members are major shareholders in Smart. It strikes me that basically that should disqualify him from any intervention with respect to telecommunications and issues concerning BTL because leaving aside the question of whether he himself is a shareholder it is not enough to say my family are shareholders in Smart. What he should say that is part of the truth if he is making full disclosure then let there be full truth my family he should my family members are shareholders in Smart along with Michael Ashcroft companies.”

The loan term is for twelve years including a three year grace period. The interest rate is at a fixed five point five percent per annum.

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