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Davis: Govt. should release BTC agreement

Progressive Liberal Party(PLP)deputy leader Philip Brave Davis has criticized the government for not making available to the public all matters related to the Memorandum of Understanding between it and Cable and Wireless Communications(CWC)for the sale of 51 percent of the Bahamas Telecommunications Company(BTC).

“My colleagues and I find it very strange that the Prime Minister of The Bahamas(Hubert Ingraham)speaks of being open on matters of national concern, but yet practices high-level corporate secrecy, and lacks the needed transparency and openness in the sale of this most valuable public asset,”Davis said in a statement.

Davis and a team from the PLP met on Wednesday with David Shaw, CEO of CWC’s Caribbean business(LIME)and Sharon Brown, CWC’s local representative, to discuss the BTC sale. Davis emphasized that the PLP did not initiate the meeting.

“Cable and Wireless representatives were unable to explain the role The Bahamas will play in its overall Caribbean network or give direction as to how hundreds of employees at BTC will be impacted,”said Davis.”They called the meeting, yet they had no answers!”

CWC wants to terminate 30 percent of BTC’s employees. The government wants to ensure that the staff reductions occur voluntarily through the offering of separation packages.

Davis said CWC had not completed its staffing plans at the time the PLP met with its representatives.

“No one has spoken to the tens of millions in liabilities of the BTC pension fund and how this sale will affect the hardworking staff members who have given so many years of services to our country through BTC,”said Davis.

“They expect to receive their pensions and should not be held responsible for the shortfall caused by the prime minister’s reckless first attempt to privatize the corporation almost 10 years ago.”

The PLP has described the BTC sale to CWC as a bad deal.

Before losing the government in May 2007, the PLP was close to selling 49percent of BTC to Bluewater Ventures Limited for$260 million. The Free National Movement(FNM)is preparing to sell the BTC majority stake for$210 million plus taxes. The FNM did not conclude the deal with Bluewater after it won the 2007 general election. Davis was Bluewater’s local attorney.

“The Ingraham government should know that as the Government of The Bahamas that they have a sacred duty to look after the well-being of Bahamians the protection of jobs should be priority one,”said Davis.

“Unlike the PLP, the FNM government continues to be led down a blind path by abdicating this responsibility and(it)appears hell-bent on signing a deal with Cable and Wireless knowing that much needed jobs will be lost.”

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