20 Responses to “BTC Back in Government Hands? Oh, The Horror”

  1. hopeful says:

    I see it as a potential disaster waiting to happen and the consumer (as always) suffers most. How soon Bahamians have forgotten the mess (internally) at BEC several years ago when large amounts of money were found to have gone missing and to date no employees have been held accountable. A private company is more likely to have frequent audits by a reputable accounting firm which lessens the possibility of embezzlement and any “cover-ups”. Government authorities always seem to “police themselves” and some (often ill-mannered) civil servants are arrogant in the belief (having become “established”) they have the protection of their union. Private corporations demand efficiency and set higher standards Finally, crony-ism and corruption in government is perhaps worse than we imagine. The result doesn’t bear thinking about for too long, lest we all fall into a serious depression.

  2. chris says:

    Why does this bring to mind the demise of Bahamas Airways and Hatchet Bay Farms, just for starters?

  3. plumma says:

    Does anyone want to try EDGE again?! If it wasn’t for outside investers we would still be on the first ever invented GSM service… PLP only want it back so they can line their pockets some more!

  4. Timothy says:

    We are looking at this entirely wrong.

    The REAL issue is that BTC is now being controlled by a foreign entity. This is really a matter of National Security. The first thing that happens when there is a take over of a country is that the communications – especially to the outside world – is controlled. Bahamians no longer have control of our national communications – in the Bahamas.

    The Government has to have made more money from their 49% as the first thing that C&W did was to cut the profits of the most profitable part of BTC (prepaid wireless) in half for the distributors who were selling their cards. When prepaid first came out the distributors were receiving a 35% discount on their wholesale orders – they were getting $100,000 worth of minutes for $65,000. So they could make $35,000 on an expenditure of $65,000 or 53.8% on their investment. This was later cut back to 25% (a return of 33%) but C&W cut this to 12% (a return of 13.6%) – destroying the era of the street phone card vendor who could have made a good living.

    Service has not gotten better – it has gotten worse. I can be sure that EVERY DAY my internet on my phone will be down for a significant amount of time. I can also be sure that I will not be compensated for these daily outtages. The chief at C&W stated in a newspaper article that there will be no outtages during the upgrade this summer. History has shown that we have had the most and most severe outtages in a long long time. The argument that there has been inside jobs that assisted in the crashes is ridiculous at best. What you are saying is that the “World Class” communications outfit that operates all over the globe is not prepared for some internal employee discontent? Right!

    I cannot believe for a minute that the contract that C&W signed does not have performance metrics. If it does not we are in a bigger problem than we think we are in. Curiously if that were the case it would not come as a surprise to me. However URCA has the ability to require things of BTC and thus we the people have a hope that things will actually improve.

    The Government needs to be ready to issue the next cellular licences as soon as the contract allows. I have seen the “World Class” C&W (LIME) operate in The Turks and Caicos Islands where they are being savagely beaten by Digicel (Regional Operator) and IslandCom (Local Operator). My prediction is that the day that we have an additional cellular service provider we will see an immediate improvement of our telecommunications matters.

    I hope for the best but prepare for the worse.

    tim

  5. Ian Mabon. says:

    The government is already realizing a larger return on 49% than they did when they owned 100%. Could this possibly have anything to do with a different style of management and a 21st century business model?

    Typical of them however to want to break something, pun intended, that’s finally well on the way to being fixed, just in order to pander to, if Mr. Christie is to be believed, the majority of the electorate.

    As “all fa me baby” & “dis we ‘tings” didn’t work before, the hindsight and once bitten principles should be applied here.

    Blue Water runs deep!

    • Blogger says:

      Blue Water runs deep… indeed! I understand that group has already formed a new shell company to buy BTC from the government once Perry and his boys get control back. Not sure how Mr Christie will explain that to the Bahamian people.

      • Ian Mabon. says:

        How will Mr. Christie explain it to the Bahamian people? Two of the late Herr Goebbels quotes come to mind.
        “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”
        And… “Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.”

  6. lovie says:

    Anything, anywhere Government run is awful… period!

    A deal is a deal, to nix this, other investments in the Bahamas would be very hard to come by.. not good for Bahamians at all.

    Simply…. my service is 100% better now… nothing is perfect is it?

  7. ginny mckinney says:

    Why doesn’t the GOB ask C&W to sell the 2% (or whatever percentage they want, it could be even the 9% that the GOB was meant to sell) with the stipulation that C&W retains administration/management control to Bahamian investors.

    It’s a win-win:

    1) C&W will make some money;
    2) Bahamian investors will get the promised piece of the economic pie;
    3) The monopoly of C&W will be history;
    4) Our credibility internationally as a place to invest safely, will be intact;
    5) We (Bahamians) won’t be out of pocket to the tune of $250million ++++.

    Then if BTC performs badly the Bahamian investors and the GOB can link hands and demand better, if BTC does well we all do well together. I don’t think the GOB should have a monopoly either as we will revert to a culture of entitlement, which we desperately need to move away from in order to compete on the world stage.

    • Blogger says:

      That is a nice concept Ginny, but impractical. C&W can not be expected to be responsible for BTC if they do not have the authority to manage it without political or financial interference. One can not assume responsibility without being given authority.

  8. Wilson says:

    The bigger question to me is what message will be sending to foreign investors considering the Bahamas? Who would want to invest millions in a country where the government may reconsider its decision and pressure you into giving up controlling interest of your company?

  9. Think Again says:

    The panacea of privatisation has been exposed for what it is; a giveaway to private corporations. Not too long ago most utilities were government owned or highly regulated, why? because the performance and competitiveness of the economy is closely tied to utilities. Even more our telecommunications are now hostage to a private company! The height of a loss of sovereignty. What is needed is competitors to BTC not another privately owned monopoly.

    OH and all of this talk about Bahamians owning BTC is silly. We DID own BTC; the government sold it! Selling shares would allow a select few Bahamians to own BTC; the ones who have the money to buy shares. So that means a shift in ownership from everyone, to a few. Not exactly visionary.

    • Blogger says:

      Thanks for you comment. But if a government-owned BTC had competitors in an open market, don’t you think they’d get crushed due to inefficiency, political meddling and management corruption?

  10. June says:

    I think the motivation for the Christie Administration to own the majority shares in BTC is pure political crap once again! The crux of the matter is that they want to control it and use it for their political selfish gain – i.e. over staff the company with their political supportters for votes in the general elections. If this happens we will be right back to square one, an overstaff company which is headed and controlled by political cronies of the Christie Administration.

    If I was Cable and wireless I would sell the entire 51% back to them in addition to cost accumulated for new equipments and other expenses. Why would C&W wish to work under and own minority shares under this ‘All for me baby’ crowd!

  11. John says:

    B.T.C. Probably the worst service we’ve experienced anywhere in the World. With dropped calls and the recording telling you all sort of connection difficulties every day, it makes doing business or merely keeping in touch with business or family frustrating. Couple that with FREEPORT POWER and you have now the Worlds worst twosome. An example of greed and incompetance. How many businesses have they destroyed by their unreasonably high prices ?

    Two fine supermarkets recently announced closure, Butlers even released details of their monthly power bill cost. Unrealistic. How many prominent businesses have shut up shop and gone overseas.

    The Government getting involved by ownership is the totally wrong way to go. As you say its been tried and we are in this mess today. These services should be controlled by simple new regulations, i.e. we take the costs and labour apportionment as an accross the board comparison to some of the best utility companies overseas. Florida being a good example of cutting out unnescessary jobs and waste. They combine a mix of outside contractors as well as their own and everyone is held accountable. Enforce these standards on the Corporations here. Grand Bahama prices will drop overnight as the workforce is trimmed to essentials. Motivate them on the service they provide and not on what they demand. The goal should be a great BTC with streamlined products and services. Freeport Power’s motto should be “Consistant Power at affordable prices”.

    That transition will help us all.

  12. Michael says:

    That is a very good article, it is a shame that it is preaching to the choir!
    Does Perry Christie think that CWC will be interested in being a minority partner with Perry Christie after his past history? CWC would do well to just offer to sell them 51% back plus a payment for the millions of dollars invested in upgrading to 4g.
    Until CWC management is able to get the “civil service” culture out of BTC then they will always have difficulty in giving a good reliable service that satisfies the majority of their customers.
    Given the fact that the PM keeps reiterating the credo that he is following the wishes of the electorate, why doesn’t he add this question of renationalisation to the proposed gambling referendum so that we can see if he is in fact correct.

  13. Chris says:

    Real question here is why is government so interested in BTC.

    I see two options that would be even better for Bahamians than buying back 2%.

    One would be to create a new Cellular company owned by Bahamians.
    Two, bring in a company like AT&T and get shares in that, thus giving government much higher earnings as they would win regardless of who the owners were.

    Both do what really needs to be done anyway, creating competition. Something else must be going on behind the scenes if BTC has that much of a priority to Mr. Christie. Probably not legal either. Did he bury money under one of BTC’s buildings?? Gotta start really thinking about why he’s after that 2% so bad. I’m sure it’s not just Bahamian pride.

  14. Patrick Thomson says:

    I cannot understand what goes on in Perry Christie’s head. IT took years to unravel BTC and bring it into the first world and now he wants to go back to square one. Renationalising BTC is pure socialism and all countries in the world are backing off from owning utility companies, and the Bahamas wants to go the other way. BEC is a disgrace – its costs are so far out, Bahamasair costs the taxpayer a huge amount of money for inferior service. Lets privatise them before we renationalise BTC – wake up Bahamas.
    Patrick Thomson,
    Nassau, Bahamas
    Currently in Edinburgh Scotland

  15. Lance says:

    It seems very hypocritical of Mr Christie to say that he is seeking to regain ownership of BTC “for the Bahamian people” after he cancelled the sale of BTC stock to the public.

    The stock sale would have allowed individual Bahamians to actually own and profit from the company.

    Having the government take back control of the company is not the same. That arrangement doesn’t benefit individual Bahamians, it benefits the government, which is Mr Christie and his cronies who quite possibly have ulterior selfish motives.