On Wednesday of this week, exactly one week after the Belize Telemedia Limited’s latest raucous, the People’s United Party called for a press briefing to directly inform the people that there is a call for full transparency of the latest audit/investigation into the General Sales Tax (GST) payments made by BTL. The PUP got hold of documents that in line item detail and scrutinized by a financial expert shows, probably criminal, underreporting of GST payments way back as 2012.
Post-exposure of this latest nuclear scandal, there were interviews/communications that yielded conflicting results with Nestor Vasquez, BTL Chairman, Joe Waight, the Financial Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Evan Brown, the acting-Commissioner of GST Department. BTL owes not a penny; there is a settlement to be arrived at; there is an audit but BTL is in the clear. It all gave new meaning to the word contradictory.
Very reliable and truthful is the booming silence from the usually flowery Prime Minister of Belize. Definitely this is getting to him since it is most likely eviscerating his United Democratic Party with the sharpest of skewers which are looking to destroy this administration ala VAT is Killer!!
The Million Dollar CEO at BTL who fully understands the value of perception and marketing to the public made another blunder. The first blunder was the possibly overpriced marketing spending of the people’s money to rebrand. BTL on a whole has been spending millions of G upgrades in likely unsustainable levels. Anwar Barrow was at the helm of BTL during most of this spending and, at some point, he, Barrow, must have realized it was all too complex and decided to bring in a foreigner, Rochus Shreiber, to save the day without causing a raucous.
The second Shreiber blunder was resigning as admiral just as the titanic news hit the icebergs of Belize’s media. That blunder exposed that something is grossly wrong. The ‘personal reasons’ excuse for resigning convinces no one. It’s out, we want to know the truth. The people of Belize should get the truth. Rochus Schreiber can return to England but Belizeans still deserve clean communication from Prime Minister Barrow.
This BTL GST scandal comes at the heels of the Social Security Board (SSB) raising the contributions of the Belizean workers who are struggling to make ends meet. The SSB UDP-laden Board of Directors is beholden to their Investments Committee lead by Nestor Vasquez. The super conflict of interest is that he, Vasquez, is also chairman of a BTL that has SSB dollars (people’s money) invested in it. The Investment Committee has the Social Partners encrusted in such a way that without their approval no investments can get the Green Light. Why is there a general silence from the Unions and other social Partners? The Business Senator went on record asking for more clarity but this is the time for greater agitation for a wider cross section of civil society.
The PUP exposed possible other wrongs even with Business Tax payments from a couple years ago “to the tune of 6.8 million dollars.” Then, it has been sourced that BTL is asking to a waiver of monies owed. All this is a Saga on its own.
The peasants would like ALL persons involved in this possible fraud to be treated in the same fashion as anyone else who owes taxes. If all exposed by the leaked BTL GST documents is not so, then let’s get an independent forensic auditor to say so.
The Truth Shall Set You Free. In this BTL case, the truth would set Belize free once more from the vindictive Dean Barrow and the United Democratic Party.
Arise ye Sons and Daughters.