Employees at Belize Telemedia Limited are currently operating at a cut in their pension and have agreed to forego certain benefits as part of the company’s austerity measures due to Covid-19. Tonight they are reportedly enraged at the unofficial preliminary findings coming out of the company’s audit report that shows a stark misuse of funds by the former Chairman Nestor Vasquez. Reports surfaced mid-week that Vasquez had somehow managed to rack up close to one million dollars in personal expenses using the company’s corporate credit card and services. In addition to that the unofficial report shows that Vasquez’ television station, Channel Seven had received a 26-month contract valued at three hundred and thirty-six thousand three hundred and seventy-five dollars. This contract was reportedly not to be paid in cash but was to assist Vasquez in repaying the monies to BTL through advertisements on Channel Seven. We have been unable to confirm but indications are that the contract has since been cancelled as part of the audit exercise. The findings have hit the employees at BTL directly as they have been cooperative in agreeing to the cuts in their benefits while Vasquez was allegedly fleecing the company’s funds. We spoke with President of the Belize Communications Workers Union, Garry Yearwood.
Garry Yearwood, Belize Communications Workers Union: “It’s some damning information. Membership quite upset at this point. We did enter into a negotiation the other day for some cost cutting measures where we agreed to give up certain benefits so whatever monies that can be recovered that would be good for our member so that they can get back something that they have given up. Members are indeed upset. We’re aware of the audit have been initiated by the past board I’m not too certain if the audit has been completed but membership would definitely want to see a copy of this audit for us to have or have some type of recommendations being put in place.”
Reporter: What have the communications or the sentiments been like from these three hundred members ?
Garry Yearwood, Belize Communications Workers Union: “Well I cannot use some of the type of language that members are echoing at this point in time you know we have people that are very passionate, we have employees at this company for thirty plus years looking at some of these allegations or the preliminary report stating that they have been dealt unfairly so basically that’s the sentiment. Whatever can be recovered they would want that come back to the company to assist with the running of the company.”
Reporter: What has the communication been like with the new board and the union as it relates to this specific audit investigation ?
Garry Yearwood, Belize Communications Workers Union: “Well that’s quite a good question, we haven’t heard anything from the new board, we don’t know how the new directors will be and there is no official communique at this point in time.”
Reporter: Has the union reached out however?
Garry Yearwood, Belize Communications Workers Union: “Well we cannot reach out to when we do not know so I will be guided by membership on that one to the way forward.”
In addition to the contract with Channel Seven, Love News learnt that the company is in debt with BTL to the tune of one hundred and twenty two thousand six hundred and eleven dollars and fifty nine cents ($122,611.59) for unpaid telephone and internet bills. In total for now, reports are that Net Vasquez racked up a bill on BTL’s dime for eight hundred and fifty-nine thousand one hundred and ninety-seven dollars and eighty-seven cents ($859,197.87). Six hundred and eighty four thousand one hundred and ninety seven dollars and sixty nine cents ($684,197.69) were credit card charges. Twenty-nine thousand two hundred and thirty-one dollars and seventy-five cents ($29,231.75) were for fuel charges. And, twenty-two thousand nine hundred and fifty-six dollars ($22,956) were for his personal insurance premiums. Vasquez has reportedly repaid one hundred and sixty-eight thousand nine hundred and forty-five dollars and forty cents through salary deductions. Love News is following this story and will report accordingly.