Perry Christie’s BTC ‘Cop Out’
Free National Movement Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis accused Prime Minister Perry Christie of using the country’s financial woes as a “cop out” to explain why the government can not afford to buy back shares in the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC).
The previous administration sold 51 percent of the shares to Cable and Wireless Communications (CWC) in 2011 and the government owns 49 percent.
Christie has vowed that his administration will ensure the Bahamian people become the majority owners of BTC.
But on Tuesday he admitted the government can not now afford to buy back shares.
Minnis predicted yesterday Christie will eventually abandon plans to regain majority control of BTC.
“They could not have gotten the two percent from [the] onset,” he said.
“First of all, that’s a publicly traded company. You can not just go in there and take or negotiate two percent like that, but he promised that to the Bahamian people.
“That was to win an election and people bought that. It was a dream that he sold to them, and they bought that dream.
“In order for that to happen, you’d have to nationalize. If you nationalize, you cause great repercussions, not only for the company, but throughout the world in terms of investor confidence.
“Therefore, you can have serious effects on the economy. He admitted that we are having financial difficulties. Now he admits that he has to introduce some measures in terms of control within the public sector, etc.
“Therefore, he is using this as an excuse to say that they don’t have the funds at this time to negotiate the two percent when he knew that he couldn’t do it in the first place.”
Christie has appointed a negotiating committee to talk with CWC about the government’s plans to regain control of the company.
The prime minister has called the 2011 deal “a very bad deal”.
When asked about the claim, BTC CEO Geoff Houston said yesterday he could not speak on the matter, which he said was an issue for the shareholders.
Nassau Guardian Senior Reporter