Categorized | National News

Gov’t Gets More Shares in BTC —BTC to spend $65 Million to Improve Services

Only months after the government regained two per cent of its shares in the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) from Cable and Wireless (CWC), Prime Minister Perry Christie announced that the government was able to secure an additional two per cent worth in shares from CWC.

Prime Minister Perry Christie briefly made the announcement during the Caribbean Association of National Telecommunications Organisation’s (CANTO) 30th Annual Trade and Exhibition Conference.

Mr. Christie explained that the negotiations with CWC to reclaim additional shares incurred no major cost for the government except for a $10,000 legal opinion.

“It is therefore really a pleasure for me to report that the people of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas now has had added to its ownership, a further two per cent of the shares of BTC,” he said.

“This makes the people of The Bahamas the economic majority owner of BTC, CWC is now the minority owner with management control.”

According to the prime minster all of the necessary documents have been completed and signed.

He added that the government along with CWC will make an official joint announcement later this month on the matter.

The initial shares went towards a trust fund to solely benefit the Bahamian people, while the government and CWC each received 49 per cent equity stakes in BTC at the time.

However, a full report to the Bahamian people on the definitive arrangement for the transfer of the two per cent to the Trust Foundation is still pending.

BTC was privatised after the Free National Movement (FNM) administration sold 51 per cent of the company to CWC in April of 2011.

Under the agreement, BTC was given a three-year monopoly on the mobile market.

The deal prompted a number of protests from various sectors in society demanding the majority of shares be returned to Bahamians.

During the Progressive Liberal Party’s (PLP) 2012 election campaign, the party promised to have the majority shares returned to Bahamians.

Moving forward, the prime minister also took the time to address the challenges faced by the telecommunications giant.

“Since the acquisition by CWC in 2011, there have been two national network meltdowns, the first was in 2012 and the second was in April 2014, both resulted in considerable public outcry for accelerating the introduction of competition in the mobile market,” he said.

“These meltdowns negatively impacted the economy and posed a national security risk to the nation, not least because the Government of The Bahamas’ ICT network uses BTC’s network for carriage.”

Mr. Christie said he is confident that CWC Chairman Phil Bentley along with BTC CEO Leon Williams and their teams, will address these plaguing network issues.

According to the prime minister, last week Thursday, Mr. Bentley approved $65 Million in capital development to be spent by BTC this year.

“This is the largest single year capital development budget to be approved for BTC,” he said.

“These monies will be spent to address the mobile drop calls, the slow data speeds and fixed lines. I am also told that BTC will begin its trials on IPTV by Christmas of this year. The Alpha and Beta Testing will begin in the Family Islands with a 2015 roll out in Nassau.”

Written by Jones Bahamas

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