Tonight, the Belize Telemedia Limited will be holding its Annual General Meeting where it will be presenting its figures to shareholders for their fiscal period 2015/2016. There are reports coming to our news desk that the numbers presented in the report tonight are not accurate and that the shareholders are being lied to. Kareem Musa is responsible for public utilities in the PUP’s Shadow Cabinet; he spoke on the information he has acquired on the write-offs by the company and Government as part of their deal with Ashcroft.
“When it comes to BTL as with all things under this Barrow Administration there are always more questions than answers. When we look at the accounts not only for this year but for last year we see so many discrepancies, so many instances of irregular accounting, improper accounting. Very shady stuff. When you look at 2014 BTL declared dividends of $19 million but when you look at their accounts for last year they had an item in there called a receivable meaning the company was going to get that so that was included in their $19 million dollar figure and that was a $10.6 million dollar claim against Great Belize Productions. Lo and behold we learn now that that is no longer a receivable, that that has been written off and it was done pursuant to this arbitration settlement that the Prime Minister had with Lord Ashcroft last year September. So in fact the profits for last year is not $19 million, it’s more like $8.4 million so it is completely irregular, how did that end up as a receivable in the first place ? Now when you look at the accounts for this year they are having an annual general meeting again and tonight they are going to prop up the figures to try to portray that the company is making $22 million dollars when you and I know that September last year the Prime Minister went to Miami and signed a secret agreement with Lord Ashcroft and agreed that BTL would pay $97 million dollars to British Caribbean Bank. That was last year September so it should fall into this fiscal period and should be reflected in the accounts of BTL, but nowhere when you look at the accounts for BTL for tonight’s annual general meeting do they even mention the $97 million dollar debt. They are saying that they are going to put that next year but that was something that was incurred by this Prime Minister in September 2015. So again, it is being done to try to mislead shareholders and to mislead the population at large. Belizeans have a stake in BTL even though the Prime Minister says that BTL is a private company which leads me to my next point that there is still a question that has not been answered; how much is the Prime Minister’s son making? What is his compensation package? His salary and his perks. We only hear rumors that he is making $40,000 a month and I have yet to see Mr. Barrow’s qualifications to hold that post so there are more questions than answers when it comes to Petro Caribe where there needs to be an audit and there needs to be an audit for BTL because these books and accounts are being cooked.”
Musa went on to speak of questions that shareholders should stand up and ask to the management of the Belize Telemedia Limited as he continues to expand on the write offs.
“Well there are several questions. For one, what is the Chairman of the Executive Committee making, what is his compensation package in terms of his salary and perks and that includes everything; his fuel allowance, his phone allowance, his subsistence because you know it’s not just salary these things all add up to something and like I said it is speculated that it is in the region of $40,000 which is so exorbitant, so ridiculous especially in these very trying times in Belize but when it comes to the accounts which is an issue of concern to all shareholders they need to ask why it is that they are declaring dividends of $22 million when we know that the Prime Minister put us on a hook last September for a debt of $97 million. Let me tell you something else about this $97 million dollars that is completely unlawful. We have been informed by the accounts that they are presenting tonight at their AGM that the Prime Minister is writing off $25.8 million dollars of that $97 million dollars meaning that government will now shoulder that responsibility. So BTL in one breath the Prime Minister is saying that it is such a profitable company and so lucrative at BTL why is he writing off $25.8 million dollars? It makes absolutely no sense at all. When our teachers are asking for a 3% raise he has time to be writing off a debt for $25.8 million dollars in the next breath. It makes no sense and the raise for the teachers is only a fraction of that $25.8 million that he is giving up and saying that BTL no longer has to pay us that. It is arbitrary, it is unreasonable, and how did he arrive at that? To say I have that power to write off that debt, it makes no sense at all.”
The AGM is taking place at the Ramada Princess Hotel at 7pm.