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FNM: PM should finally give up BTC take back

Guardian Staff Reporter

Published: Oct 19, 2013

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Prime Minister Perry Christie should move on and let go of his promise to regain majority shares in the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC), Free National Movement (FNM) Chairman Darron Cash said yesterday.

Cash’s statement came after Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) announced Thursday that its CEO, Tony Rice, resigned.

That evening, Christie said Rice’s resignation has the potential to halt the government’s negotiations with CWC to regain the two percent controlling interest in BTC.

“It seems as though the prime minister is hell bent on taking a public relations approach rather than a substantive approach,” Cash said.

“By that I mean CWC has already given the indication that they are moving on, publicly. It is only Prime Minister Christie who refuses to give up the ghost.

“The new CEO, Phil Bently, may very well come and go before Christie admits that this is not going to be possible.”

The FNM has criticized Christie’s plans from the outset, calling it a waste of time and one that may send a bad message to the international community.

CWC, the majority owner of BTC, announced the appointment of Phil Bentley as its new CEO, effective January 1, 2014.

He will also become the new chairman of the board of BTC.

Rice has led CWC since its 2012 demerger from Cable and Wireless Worldwide.

The CWC statement did not give a reason for his resignation.

Cash said the FNM is not concerned by Rice’s resignation, but more so with getting a message to the prime minister to move on.

“He ought to say to the Bahamian people that, ‘My declaration as leader of the opposition, though a lofty and noble promise was misplaced; the country is not in a position for us to afford the price CWC wished to extract and therefore I will no longer pursue this,’” Cash said.

CWC purchased 51 percent of BTC in 2011 amid widespread controversy.

The Christie administration has pledged to regain majority control of the company.

Christie appointed a negotiating team last year led by businessman Franklyn Wilson with plans to do just that.

On Thursday night, Christie said, “It may stop negotiations, and we have to determine whether the negotiations had some implications to what happened to him.”

He said Cabinet only recently considered Rice’s latest proposal on the share take back.

“He gave me a response that I could get the two percent with conditions,” he said.

“I don’t want to say now. Ultimately, I may have to publish those conditions.

“...He wanted a better relationship between the Bahamas government and Cable & Wireless and other matters.”


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