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Government passes bill to impose new ownership on BTL

30 May 2007

Belize’s Senate has ratified a controversial law, the Telecommunications Undertaking (Belize Telecommunications Limited Operations) Vesting Bill, under which a new entity, Belize Telemedia Limited, will take over the country’s national PTO Belize Telecommunications Limited (BTL). The bill will not enter into law until it receives final approval from Governor-General, Sir Colville Young. Despite opposition from the opposition United Democratic Party, senators representing the private sector and trade unions, all six ruling People’s United Party senators supported the legislation, securing a 6-5 majority. Objectors to the bill claimed that it hinged on a secret business transfer agreement, dated September 2006. There is a pending legal dispute over the ownership, directorship and overall control of BTL between its two dominant shareholders – Michael Ashcroft (chairman of the UK’s Carlisle Group – now BB Holdings – and Deputy Chairman of the British Conservative Party) and US businessman Jeffrey Prosser, head of regional telecoms and media company Innovative Communication Co (ICC). Supporters of the new law said that it is intended to bring stability to the country’s telecoms industry.

Belize, Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL, Digi)

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