Categorized | National News

BTC Displeases FNM

Despite his party signing off on the Bahamas Telecommunication Company’s (BTC) privatisation two years ago, the Free National Movement’s (FNM) Chairman is not at all pleased with how things have worked out.

In fact, Darron Cash yesterday acknowledged that he finally agrees with something the governing Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) has said – BTC has left many of us feeling let down.

“In terms of both the overall quality of its service and in relation to installing the infrastructure needed to make CCTV work effectively, BTC has been a source of enormous disappointment,” the FNM Chairman said in a release yesterday.

But Mr. Cash laid the blame squarely on the shoulders of the government.

“Sadly, the government’s approach to oversight and governing BTC–by virtue of its 49 percent ownership stake–leaves much to be desired,” he said.

“No one is more at fault than Prime Minister Perry Christie, who has consistently demonstrated impotence instead of the ability to use the considerable power and influence of his office.”

Mr. Cash went on to refer to a complaint National Security Minister, Dr. Bernard Nottage lodged against the telecommunications company last week.

At the time, Dr. Nottage blamed BTC for taking too long to begin a transport network that supports closed circuit television (CCTV) for the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF).

CCTV is the use of video camera positioned in designated areas to capture and transmit moving images to a specific place such as a monitoring station.

BTC later released a statement, defending itself.

BTC’s Senior Vice President of Technical Services, Antonio Stubbs said the 200 plus cameras presently installed, which provide for a dedicated surveillance network is presently up and running but require additional optimisation.

“We have expanded our fibre optic network and built out the dedicated wireless infrastructure as a transport network to support the CCTV system,” he said.

“We will complete the remainder of the sites once the power source has been connected.”

But the FNM Chairman insists the entire situation with BTC is “no laughing matter,” but rather serious and painful in many respects.”

“BTC and the government cannot be serious. Right-thinking Bahamians must ask themselves why is it that BTC, a quasi government corporation, must resort to issuing press releases in order to communicate with its co-owner, the Bahamas Government. The need for that type of communication between joint shareholders indicates a failure of leadership. To add insult to injury, in addition to owning 49 percent of the shares in BTC, the government has three members on the BTC board of directors. Do they not communicate with each other?

“It borders on the ridiculous that BTC must issue a press release to answer a minister of the government. Minister Nottage should be giving the public information about BTC, not fighting with the Company in public. There needs to be a change in leadership at some level because the country is not being well served.”

Mr. Cash also found recent comments from Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union President (BCPOU), Bernard Evans “puzzling.”

According to the FNM chairman, only last month, the union leader was accusing BTC’s management of creating a poisonous work environment in which employees were afraid to go to work.

“Within days of those utterances, the union said—in effect—that BTC’s management were doing just fine and the Union would have no problem with the government extending the BTC cellular monopoly and with it, BTC’s market dominance and lack of pressure to change its employee relations and competitive practices,” he pointed out.

“Today, BTC is forced to try to quiet rumours that BTC’s union has reportedly heard about pending staff reductions. It is not clear whether those rumours have been sparked by talks between BTC and the government about staff cuts or whether those discussions have been largely internal to BTC. In any event, the infighting between BTC, government, ministers and the union are doing nothing to inspire confidence and address the relentless incidences of poor cell service.”

Mr. Cash has acknowledged that initially he was against the whole idea of the FNM government selling 51 per cent of BTC’s shares to Cable & Wireless, but said considering it was in the best interest of the country, he agreed.

Written by Macushla Pinder

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