Prime Minister John Briceno has responded to the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) on the issue of SMART’s contract on the Microsoft 365 contract. Briceno told the BCCI that their claim for a fair and level playing field would mean giving all suppliers an unbiased opportunity to bid and to be selected fairly. The letter further states, quote, “(1) According to the Chamber, BTL should be allowed to match the prices that are in the market, but you give no recognition to the fact that it is free competition within the market that sets the fair market value of the service. What you propose in our view constitutes a monopoly for BTL with regard to any telecommunications service to be offered to the government. However, the regulatory framework in Belize under the Telecommunications Act does not contemplate or support the operation of such a monopoly. (2) Please be advised that we did not use a “selective tendering process” in relation to the contract for the Microsoft software licenses. Pursuant to the Finance and Audit (Reform) Act (the “Act”), the Government is empowered to enter into procurement of contracts using either the limited tendering procedure, the open tendering procedure or the selective tendering procedure. In this case the limited tendering process was used.” End of quote. The 2-page letter goes on to state that the tendering process was done transparently and that there was no preference shown in the process. It continued saying, quote, “We categorically reject your assertion that we are “diverting” business from the BTL to SMART. CITO went to great lengths to ensure the process used was transparent and fair to all parties invited to tender. There was a bid committee, the requirements were put to all those invited to bid at a meeting attended by all of them, the bids were password protected, and the bids were opened live by the committee in the presence of all bidders. BTL was even allowed to submit an updated bid. In the end, the party with the lowest bid was successful in accordance with the terms of the procurement. As a government we are bound contractually to accept the outcome of the process. It is not open to us to change the rules of the process because some do not like the outcome.” End of quote. The response from the Prime Minister has to do with the contract awarded to SMART which is a company whose shareholders include relatives of PM Briceno.