The Government has taken note that the Opposition delegation which met with the CEO of Cable and Wireless today included Mr. Brave Davis, the attorney for the company (Blue Water) to whom the PLP Government had agreed to sell the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) and Mr. Shane Gibson, a part owner of a telecommunications company.
It is also noted that Blue Water was a foreign entity with no experience in the telecommunications sector anywhere. Further, there was never clarity on the ownership and beneficiaries of Blue Water.
Opposition Leader Christie recently commented that he regrets not having sold BTC. Had such a sale gone through to a company that was not publicly traded and had no track record in telecommunications, BTC in all likelihood would now be in ruins financially, stripped of its assets and technological capacity.
It will be recalled that the Prime Minister has on more than one occasion said, and subsequently caused to be put into law, that any sale of BTC would require the approval of Parliament. The Prime Minister has also advised the general public that all matters concerning the sale of BTC would be made public prior to the required vote in the House of Assembly. It is expected that a minimum of two weeks will elapse between the disclosure of all the terms of the sale and the vote being taken in Parliament.
It should be noted that the FNM informed the Bahamian public that it had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Cable and Wireless on the day of the signature of the MOU – 2nd December, 2010.
The contract for the sale of 51% interest in BTC is now being negotiated. When its terms are agreed and the contract has been signed, it will be publicly disclosed. It is now expected that this will take place by the end of the second week in January, 2011.
An FNM Government will continue to act in an accountable and transparent manner as regards the sale of BTC. In stark contrast the Christie administration acted in a reckless, unaccountable and shadowy manner as they prepared to sell BTC to a group that seemed more like a financial scheme than a telecommunications company.
The public will recall that when the PLP Government agreed to sell BTC to Blue Water it was done in the strictest secrecy and not even the Agreement for Sale was made public. Indeed, it was only following the 2007 general election that the FNM government discovered and revealed to the Bahamian people that the PLP had determined to sell BTC to Blue Water, a foreign company, and that part of the purchase price would be paid in installments over a number of years!
The Opposition have complained that Cable and Wireless was unable to discuss its Business Plan with them. Of course Cable and Wireless was not in a position to discuss the Business Plan because it is not yet finalized.
As made clear in the Government’s press release advising of the signing of the MOU between the Government and C&W, the MOU provides for CWC to work with the Government and the management of BTC to finalize a business plan for BTC, addressing its plans for the modernization of telecommunications throughout The Bahamas, for the development of BTC following privatization, and how service rates charged to Bahamian consumers could be reduced in the period leading up to the liberalization of cellular services. Those discussions are now taking place.
The Bahamian public may be assured that as is its custom and practice, their FNM Government will make all details of the sale of 51% of BTC to C&W available to them on the same day that the contract for sale is signed. Unlike what the PLP did with various secretive heads of agreements on a number of foreign investment projects, an accountable and transparent FNM will continue to conduct the people’s business in the sunshine.